Home General Maryland State Bd. of Elections Still Fighting to Avoid Paying Green Party Attorneys Fees for 2003 Victory
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Maryland State Bd. of Elections Still Fighting to Avoid Paying Green Party Attorneys Fees for 2003 Victory

Published on January 31, 2007, by in General.

In 2003, the Maryland Green Party won a spectacular ballot access lawsuit in Maryland’s highest state court. That court ruled that it is unconstitutional for a state to require double petitioning. That is, it is unconstitutional to require a minor party to submit one petition to qualify itself, and then separate petitions for each of its nominees (“nominees” means people chosen at the party’s nominating conventions; it doesn’t mean people seeking the party’s nomination).

As a result of that decision, Maryland ballot access for minor parties is now reasonable and fair, a great contrast to Maryland law between 1967 and 2003, when it was extraordinarily repressive.

The Maryland State Board of Elections seems to have a vendetta against the attorneys who won that 2003 case for the Maryland Green Party. The Board has refused to pay attorneys’ fees. The latest attempt by the Board to avoid payment was in July 2006, when it persuaded a lower court judge to issue a subpoena, letting the Board see all the e-mail between one of the attorneys and the Green Party. Because that attorney works for a college as a librarian, the subpoena also asks to see his employment application and his payroll records. The attorney used his computer at work for e-mail with the Green Party (something that was permitted by the employer, as long as it wasn’t extensive), but the State Board of Elections argues that therefore the attorney-client privilege was waived. The Board of Elections also apparently hopes to substantially cut the hourly rate for the attorney, by trying to demonstrate that his relatively modest salary as a librarian demonstrates that he should not be paid as though he were an ordinary attorney.

On January 26, the ACLU of Maryland filed a brief in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on behalf of the Green Party and its attorneys, arguing that the subpoena should be quashed and that the Board quickly settle the amount of attorneys fees. The case is Maryland Green Party v Maryland Bd. of Elections, no. 01321, Sept. 2006 Term.

2 Responses

  1. JIMMMY

    THANK YOU FOR THIS IMPORTENT INFORMATION.
    ITM RAISES MORE QUESTIONS THAN I CAN ANSWER. SO, IF YOU COULD KEEP ON THIS STORY IT WOULD HELP ME TO EVALUATE IT.

  2. http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?071+ful+HB3157H1
    HB3157) 02/02/07 House: Reported from Privileges and Elections with substitute (16-Y 6-N)

    Elections; candidate filing requirements. Requires independent and primary candidates to pay a filing fee for expenses equal to the greater of $50 or two percent of one year’s minimum annual salary for the office unless a candidate provides an affidavit that he is indigent. Provides a formula for calculating signatures required on candidate petitions for the House of Delegates and local elections of 0.25 percent of registered voters or 50 registered voters, whichever is greater. Retains exceptions for certain small towns and soil and water conservation districts.

    YEAS–Putney, Ingram, Hargrove, Jones, S.C., Albo, Rapp, Cosgrove, Fralin, O’Bannon, Bell, Miller, J.H., Phillips, Joannou, Sickles, Dance, Englin–16.
    NAYS–Marshall, R.G., Cole, Frederick, Scott, J.M., Brink, Alexander–6.
    ABSTENTIONS–0.

    THIS IS BAD NEWS. 2% OF THE PAY FOR A US HOUSE OR SENATE SEAT WOULD BE REQUIRED TO BE PAID TO ACCOMPANY THE DECLARATION AND THE PETITIONS…

    This is something that is directly unfair to the third party candidates. I can understand trying to defer the cost of the primaries, but to require all candidates to pay such exorbitant fees is blatantly unfair and likely unconstitutional. It is the rawest form of candidate suppression as if with half the seats unopposed, there is not already enough apathy.

    Please contact your member of the House to vote against this when to comes to the floor.

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