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Pro Se Litigation

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Amsterdam v. KITV 4 (David Alan Ezra, D. Haw. 1:10-cv-253) and Moseley v. Hawaii (Susan Oki Mollway, D. Haw. 1:10-cv-255)
Two minor candidates for a special congressional election filed pro se emergency actions in the federal court to compel their inclusion in separate televised candidate forums. The district judges denied the plaintiffs relief on the papers.
Subject: Campaign activities. Topics: News media; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Sloan v. Hearst Media Co. (Paul J. Barbadoro, D.N.H. 1:16-cv-52)
A pro se federal complaint filed on the afternoon of the day of presidential primary elections challenged the plaintiff’s exclusion from televised debates and challenged the refusal of a television station to air the plaintiff’s paid ads. The district judge denied the plaintiff a temporary restraining order on the day that the complaint was filed for failure to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(b)(1)’s notice requirements for a temporary restraining order. A little over two months later, a magistrate judge reviewed the complaint and recommended its dismissal. Reviewing the plaintiff’s objections, the district judge adopted the recommendation, and the court of appeals affirmed the dismissal.​
Subject: Campaign activities. Topics: Campaign materials; pro se party; primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Matheson v. New York City Board of Elections (Edward R. Korman, 1:03-cv-4170), Marchant v. New York City Board of Elections (Kiyo A. Matsumoto, 1:11-cv-4099), and Marchant v. New York City Board of Elections (Roslynn R. Mauskopf, 1:10-cv-3847) (E.D.N.Y.) and Marchant v. New York City Board of Elections (Katherine Polk Failla, 1:13-cv-5493), Escoffery-Bey v. New York City Board of Elections (Jesse M. Furman, 1:13-cv-5656), Keeling v. Sanchez (Paul A. Engelmayer, 1:13-cv-5731), and Newsome v. New York City Board of Elections (Ronnie Abrams, 1:13-cv-5787) (S.D.N.Y.)
In 2003, 2010, 2011, and 2013, supporters of a perennial New York primary election candidate filed federal actions—the first three in the Eastern District of New York and the last in the Southern District of New York—challenging the candidate’s exclusion from the ballot for insufficient ballot petition signatures. The first action was successful. Similar actions on behalf of other candidates filed in the Southern District of New York in 2013 were unsuccessful, in once case because relief had been obtained in parallel state court proceedings.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; primary election; matters for state courts; pro se party; case assignment; attorney fees; intervention.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Ramratan v. New York City Board of Elections (Nicholas G. Garaufis and Dora L. Irizarry, 1:06-cv-4770), Bert v. New York City Board of Elections (Charles P. Sifton, 1:06-cv-4789), Brown v. Board of Elections (Kiyo A. Matsumoto, 1:08-cv-3512), Fischer v. Suffolk County Board of Elections (Joanna Seybert, 2:08-cv-4171), Minnus v. Board of Elections (Sandra L. Townes, 1:10-cv-3918), Fischer v. NYS Board of Elections (Joanna Seybert, 2:12-cv-5397), and Pidot v. New York State Board of Elections (Joseph F. Bianco, 2:16-cv-3527) (E.D.N.Y.) and Williams-Bey v. Commissioners of Elections (Katherine B. Forrest, 1:12-cv-3836), Thomas v. New York City Board of Elections (Shira A. Scheindlin, 1:12-cv-4223), and Moore v. McFadden (Edgardo Ramos, 1:14-cv-6643) (S.D.N.Y.)
In ten cases, district judges denied relief contrary to state court results to prospective candidates in the Eastern District of New York in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2016 and in the Southern District of New York in 2012 and 2014.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; primary election; pro se party; case assignment; laches; recusal.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Green Party of New York State v. New York State Board of Elections (John Gleeson, E.D.N.Y. 1:02-cv-6465)
Three days before the certification of a gubernatorial election would result in a minor party’s demotion from status as an established party because its candidate received an insufficient number of votes for governor, the party filed a federal complaint challenging the stripping of registered party membership for all of its registered members. The district judge issued a temporary restraining order in the party’s favor. Later, the court of appeals affirmed a preliminary injunction in the party’s favor.
Topics: Registration procedures; interlocutory appeal; intervention; getting on the ballot; attorney fees; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

In Print: Available for Distribution

This manual provides a practical guide to steps that courts can take before and during litigation to manage nonprisoner pro se litigation more efficiently, steps that may also help pro se litigants better navigate the complexities of federal civil litigation. Part I discusses the concept of procedural fairness and the goal of increasing access to justice; it also addresses some of the potential ethical concerns about providing assistance to pro se litigants. Part II examines specific case-management techniques that federal courts have applied or that have been recommended as potentially useful in pro se cases. Part III provides a more in-depth look at many of the legal issues that can arise during pro se litigation, focusing on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Evidence, and case law, in order to give judges a better understanding of the scope of their authority and discretion in pro se matters.

Available Online Only

Kowalski v. Cook County Officers’ Electoral Board (John W. Darrah, N.D. Ill. 1:16-cv-1891)
The federal district judge denied relief to a prospective candidate for county recorder of deeds as barred by res judicata and unsuccessful efforts in state courts.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; pro se party; primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Espronceda v. Krier (H.F. Garcia, William Wayne Justice, and Pamela A. Mathy, W.D. Tex. 5:00 cv 1259)
One week after the election, a pro se federal complaint challenged the passage of a referendum to add fluoride to a city’s drinking water. A little over a year later, a three-judge district court granted the defendants summary judgment.
Subject: Ballot measures. Topics: Ballot measure; enjoining certification; pro se party; section 5 preclearance; three-judge court; case assignment; recusal.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Shields v. Engelman Irrigation District (Ricardo H. Hinojosa, S.D. Tex. 7:08-cv-116)
In response to an April 3, 2008, federal complaint, a district judge and then a three-judge district court enjoined new voter registration requirements for a May 10 election by landowners to an irrigation district board of directors for lack of preclearance pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Topics: Registration procedures; section 5 preclearance; three-judge court; voter identification; matters for state courts; intervention; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Bryan v. Abramson (Harvey Bartle, D.V.I. 1:10-cv-79)
A pro se complaint sought a right to cast a paper ballot instead of voting electronically or casting a provisional ballot. The court determined that the complaint did not present a federal question. A local court determined that the claim was without merit.
Topics: Matters for state courts; provisional ballots; voting technology; pro se party; Help America Vote Act (HAVA)

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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