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Pro Se Litigation

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Dekom v. New York (Joanna Seybert, E.D.N.Y. 2:12-cv-1318)
The district judge denied immediate relief in a broad prospective challenge to New York’s ballot petition signature requirements filed pro se by three prospective candidates. After full briefing, the judge dismissed the action.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; equal protection; case assignment; recusal.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Queens County Republican Committee ex rel. Maltese v. New York State Board of Elections (Arthur D. Spatt, 2:02-cv-4836) and Soleil v. New York (David G. Trager and Allyne R. Ross, 1:04-cv-3247) (E.D.N.Y.)
A district judge denied a challenge to election laws that permit persons outside of a political party to challenge primary election ballot petitions. In a case filed two years later, a different district judge in the same district agreed with the first judge’s reasoning and dismissed a complaint alleging that persons not wishing to run should not be able to challenge ballot petitions.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; primary election; matters for state courts; case assignment; pro se party; class action; laches; party procedures; recusal.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Sundwall v. Kelleher (Lawrence E. Kahn, 1:06-cv-1191) and Lanza v. Wart (David N. Hurd, 5:07-cv-848) (N.D.N.Y.)
A district judge overruled a minor party’s election-eve challenge to a requirement that persons signing ballot petitions provide accurate residential addresses in light of “the complicated ways in which villages, addresses, counties, and townships cross each other’s borders” in New York. A different district judge reached a similar decision one year later.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; primary election.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Van Wie v. Pataki (David N. Hurd, 1:00-cv-322), Van Allen v. Cuomo (Gary L. Sharpe, 1:07-cv-722), and Van Allen v. Walsh (Lawrence E. Kahn, 1:08-cv-876) (N.D.N.Y.)
Two weeks before a presidential primary election, two voters filed a federal complaint challenging a law that allowed new voter registrants to enroll in a political party up to 25 days before a primary but did not allow a change in party enrollment for already registered voters to go into effect until after the next general election. One week later, after oral argument, the district judge dismissed the complaint, finding compelling the incentive to register new voters. Actions initiated in 2007 and 2008 were similarly unsuccessful.
Topics: Registration procedures; primary election; intervention; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Shtino v. Carlin (Alexander Williams, Jr., D. Md. 8:00-cv-3699)
The district court denied a December 21, 2000, pro se complaint to enjoin presentation of Florida’s electoral votes.
Topics: Electoral College; enjoining certification; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Blakely v. City of Laurel Clerk Office (Keith Starrett, S.D. Miss. 2:13-cv-72)
A would-be candidate for city council filed a pro se federal complaint alleging wrongful disqualification of his candidacy on the basis of old felony convictions. The district judge set the case for hearing nine days later. Two weeks after that, the district judge found the case to have been filed in bad faith because the plaintiff had already lost three similar state-court cases, and the judge sanctioned the plaintiff $5,000. The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal and the sanction.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; matters for state courts; recusal.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Jones v. Alabama (Richard W. Vollmer, Jr., S.D. Ala. 1:00-cv-442)
On May 11, 2000, a county commission candidate filed a federal pro se complaint challenging election procedures for a June 6 primary election. On June 1, the candidate moved for a temporary restraining order against the holding of the election. Service of the motion was not confirmed until late at night on Friday, June 2, the response was not docketed until Monday, and the judge was out sick on Monday and Tuesday, so the motion could not be considered until the election was over. In 2001, the judge granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case. The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal.
Topics: Enjoining elections; primary election; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Bonds v. Orr (Robert M. Dow, Jr., N.D. Ill. 1:13-cv-2610)
At approximately 1:00 p.m. on the day before an election for a high school district board of education, a federal district court judge received a complaint seeking the plaintiff’s listing as a write-in candidate. After a 3:30 hearing, the judge determined that because the plaintiff’s claims had already been pursued unsuccessfully in state court, they were barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, which states that among federal courts only the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over state court proceedings.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; matters for state courts; pro se party.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Germalic v. Bullock (Richard G. Andrews, D. Del. 1:12-cv-1347)
Approximately two weeks before the 2012 presidential election, a plaintiff filed a pro se federal complaint that the state’s requirements for being a presidential candidate were too onerous. Three days after the complaint was filed, the district court denied the plaintiff injunctive relief for failure show any effort to meet ballot qualifications and for seeking relief after the ballots had been printed.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; laches.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

NaPier v. Baldacci (D. Brock Hornby, D. Me. 2:06-cv-151)
A minor gubernatorial candidate filed a pro se complaint two months before the 2006 general election because the state was not acceding to his orthographic preferences for his name, including the printing of “Phillip” with the letters “i” represented as just dots with eyebrows and the double “l” represented with a smile under it. The federal court determined that the case was a matter for the state court.
Topics: Pro se party; matters for state courts.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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