Friday, January 28, 2011

Juvenile Court Race Update

I rejuvenate the blog today to try to answer the multitude of questions I'm getting about the latest decision handed down by the federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

First, you can read and attempt to digest this opinion yourself by clicking here. Simply click on Opinion #11a0021p.06 and the .pdf file is available.

This case has become highly convoluted both factually and, now, legally. This is not an editorial comment--it is just a fact. Although many have followed the case, I'm not sure that everyone understands all the factual wrinkles and the legal complexities involved. For the handful of us who have lived with this since mid-November (on both sides of the issue), I think we understand it fairly well. I'll do my best to summarize what the 6th Circuit said last night.

Before I do, a word of caution: I've read this decision only twice and I have NOT talked with our team of lawyers from the Prosecutor's office who will further interpret the decision and I have not discussed what it all means. Also, the Board of Elections must now decide next steps and decisions about that will come in the near future after all of us have had a fuller chance to digest this decision.

The 6th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals said several things:

1. Judge Dlott's original order of November 22 was valid and enforceable.

2. That the federal courts continue to have jurisdiction in this matter despite arguments to the contrary by several parties.

3. That the Board of Elections did violate the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution on November 16, thereby justifying the original court action.

4. That Judge Dlott's order of 1/12 was entered without having a meaningful hearing from both sides, so it is vacated (meaning set aside) until such time that the court hears from both sides.

5. The case will now go back before Judge Dlott for further proceedings consistent with the court's opinion.

Again, this is merely a summary and I write it in an attempt to simplify the decision and help supporters understand it.

In the end, this decision is not one favored by conservatives, But, as a lawyer, I understand the arguments and I certainly respect the power of the courts to resolve these disputes. Although not thrilled with the outcome, the system is working and all of us are bound by law to follow court orders.

It appears that the next set of proceedings will likely occur in front of Judge Dlott, unless there is more court action by one or more of the interested parties. The parties have a few options including asking for a review by the entire panel of 6th Circuit judges (an "en banc" proceeding) or a review by the U.S. Supreme Court (although there are a series of other things that must happen before that can occur ).

As I write this blog, there are NO decisions, yet, by the Board of Elections on next steps. That decision may come later today or next week. Speculation by me on this blog about next steps would be inappropriate.

To the many who have followed this case and have asked so many good questions, I sincerely thank you for your interest. I apologize for not being able to respond to every phone call or specific e-mail (although I've done my best). I hope that this blog posting helps answer some of the basic questions.

The big question, "what now?" can't be answered yet this morning. But, will be soon.

Again, thank you to all who have been with us in this odyssey and to all who have made their way to the Board of Elections. I specifically appreciate those who have shown an interest and acted respectfully to understand how our democracy works. Your support and friendship mean a great deal to us.

A special thank you, also, to my fellow board member and good friend, Chip Gerhardt. Chip and his wonderful family have made sacrifices (as have ALL board members and staff on both sides) during this tumultuous ride.

Check back to this blog for more information as I will do my best to keep you posted.