Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker not only is running for re-election (we weren’t so sure in late March, but then he did qualify on time), he wants a fellow Republican kicked off the primary ballot. And now.
Parker sued challenger Eric Johnston (amongst others) in Montgomery County Circuit Court Friday, alleging Johnston filed ethics and financial disclosures too long after qualifying as a candidate for his name to be certified for the primary ballot. From my read, the suit might just come down to the definition of “day.”
The style of Parker’s suit takes nearly seven pages, as there are 138 respondents including every probate judge and circuit clerk in the state of Alabama as well as Secretary of State Beth Chapman. Also, the title of the action is pretty broad: “PETITION FOR WRIT OF PROHIBITION, MANDAMUS CERTIORARI, OR OTHER APPROPRIATE EXTRAORDINARY RELIEF.” Those options get ever broader when we skip to the end, under Reasons for Granting the Writ (which also provides my segue for getting into the substance of all this):
Petitioners submit that their petition for writ of prohibition, mandamus, certiorari, or other appropriate extraordinary relief (including declaratory and injunctive relief) is due to be granted for the reason that Respondent Alan Eric Johnston failed to file (1) his Appointment of Principal Campaign Committee form as required by the Fair Campaign Practice Act, and (2) his completed Statement of Economic Interests as required by Alabama Ethics law.
Ok. How? According to the suit, here’s the relevant time line:
- April 1 (Thurs): Johnston filed candidate qualification papers with the Alabama State Republican Executive Committee.
- April 7 (Wed): Chapman received Johnston’s Appointment of Principal Campaign Committee form (dated April 5); the Alabama Ethics Commission received Johnston’s Statement of Economic Interests (dated April 5); and, the Alabama State Republican Executive Committee certified Johnston’s name to the Chapman for the primary ballot.
- April 12 (Mon): Chapman certified Johnston’s name to probate judges in every county for the primary ballots, which are being drawn up now.
Parker’s reason for finding fault with the above, from the suit:
The Candidate Filing Guidelines for Election 2010 provided from the Secretary of State’s Office clearly state that the Appointment of Principal Campaign form must be filed with the Secretary of State “within five (5) days of becoming a candidate,” and that the “Statement of Economic Interest [must be filed] with the appropriate official at the same time” candidate qualification papers are filed.
So what’s a “day”? Under 36-25-1 Ala. Code (the same section that sets up State Ethics Commission), we have “DAY” defined as “calendar day.” Period. But my knee-jerk Civil Procedure reaction was that “five days” from April 1 would be April 8, discounting the weekend. There is no mention in Parker’s suit about how he is calculating “day.” I suppose that will be best argued in front of the judge.
Since we’re here talking about the Alabama Supreme Court race for Place 3 (Republican James Houts and Democrat Mac Parsons are also running), I looked into financial disclosures for any clue as to what’s going on with Parker and Johnston, if anything. Because I’m nosy, sure, but also because Parker’s run for re-election was kind of unexpected in talk around the Political Parlor.
Parker’s 45-day disclosure shows that money wasn’t moving at all this year until April 5, when Parker loaned it $35,000. Ten days later, the campaign got a $50,000 loan from R.B. Saunders (an individual in Mississippi). On April 12, Parker’s campaign sent two payments totaling $35,000 to his longtime media/ consulting firm in New Jersey.
Johnston lists one contribution on April 2 from the Equal Justice PAC – $3,500. On April 14, the campaign repaid a $3,200 loan to Johnston with a “qualifying fee” notation next to it.
So. There’s that. Discuss.