Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Election Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the trial court dismissing the claims brought by the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) and the claim brought by a group of plaintiffs referred to as the Gutierrez Plaintiffs that the recently enacted laws reapportioning Texas's legislative districts violate Tex. Const. art. III, 26, holding that the trial court erred in part.MALC and the Gutierrez Plaintiffs sued Defendants - various State officials - claiming that the laws at issue violated Article III, Sections 26 and 28. Defendants filed pleas to the jurisdiction, which the trial court largely denied. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded the case to the trial court, holding (1) MALC lacked associational standing to pursue its claims; (2) at least one of the Gutierrez Plaintiffs had standing to pursue each claim a proper defendant, but not the State; (3) the Gutierrez Plaintiffs' section 26 was not barred by sovereign immunity, but the section 28 claim was; and (4) the Gutierrez Plaintiffs should have the opportunity to replead their section 26 claim against a proper defendant. View "Abbott v. Mexican American Legislative Caucus" on Justia Law

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Consolidated election contests arose out of the December 9, 2019 city council elections in Wards 1 and 6 of Greenville, Mississippi. Contestant Oliver Johnson lost in Ward 1 to William Albert Brock, and Chauncy Wright lost in Ward 6 to James Wilson. Both Johnson and Wright subsequently filed petitions to contest the elections both claiming multiple voting irregularities. Brock and Wilson then filed motions for summary judgment. After taking into consideration all of the testimony, petitions, responses, and affidavits, the circuit court granted Brock’s and Wilson’s motions for summary judgment. Finding no reversible error in those judgments, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Johnson, et al. v. Brock, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Theresa Norelli, Christine Fajardo, Matt Gerding, and Palana Hunt-Hawkins, filed a complaint against the New Hampshire Secretary of State to challenge the constitutionality of New Hampshire’s current congressional districts. Plaintiffs contended the districts were rendered unconstitutionally malapportioned due to population shifts reported by the United States Census Bureau’s 2020 census. This case presented two preliminary questions for the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s review: (1) whether the current statute establishing a district plan for New Hampshire’s two congressional districts violated Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution; and (2) if so, whether the Supreme Court had to establish a new district plan if the legislature failed to do so “according to federal constitutional requisites in a timely fashion after having had an adequate opportunity to do so.” The Supreme Court answered the first question in the affirmative. In answering the second question, it determined that, upon a demonstrated legislative impasse, the Supreme Court had to establish a new district plan and, in doing so, it would apply the “least change” approach. View "Norelli, et al. v. New Hampshire Sec'y of State" on Justia Law

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An Alaska citizen filed an application to recall a member of the Anchorage Assembly, alleging that the assembly member had committed misconduct in office by participating in an indoor gathering of more than 15 people in violation of an executive order. The municipal clerk rejected the application after concluding that the alleged conduct did not constitute misconduct in office. The superior court reversed the clerk’s denial of the application. After review, the Alaska Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed the superior court’s decision. View "Jones v. Biggs" on Justia Law

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Two sets of electors who were dissatisfied with the Attorney General’s ballot title for Initiative Petition 34 (2022) (IP 34) petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court for review. IP 34 was directed at changing Oregon’s process for reapportioning legislative and congressional districts after each decennial census. Both petitions argued the ballot title did not substantially comply with the requirements of ORS 250.035. The Oregon Supreme Court agreed with some of the arguments raised in the petitions and, therefore, referred the ballot title to the Attorney General for modification. View "Mason/Turrill v. Rosenblum" on Justia Law

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This action stemmed from the San Bernardino County registrar of voters (ROV) initially miscalculating the number of signatures needed in support of plaintiffs and real parties in interest’s (RPI) initiative petition to repeal a special tax associated with a fire protection zone. The ROV told RPI the incorrect number, resulting in RPI incurring unnecessary costs in obtaining far more signatures than were required. Defendants and Petitioners County of San Bernadino and its ROV, Bob Page, (collectively, the County) petitioned for a writ of mandate to direct the respondent trial court to vacate its order overruling the County’s demurrer and to enter an order sustaining the without leave to amend. The County contended that, when RPI requested the County to inform it of the number of signatures required for its initiative petition, the County did not owe RPI any statutory or constitutional duty to provide the information when requested. The County further argues it was immune from liability for communicating to RPI the incorrect number under Government Code sections 818.8 and 822.2. The Court of Appeal agreed that under Government Code sections 815 and 815.6, the County was not subject to liability because there was no breach of any statutory or constitutional duty. "[E]ven if the County owed RPI such a duty, the County was immune from liability under Government Code sections 818.8 and 822.2." The Court therefore concluded the trial court erred in overruling the County’s demurrer. View "County of San Bernardino v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs and the United States filed suit against the State of Texas, as well as state and local officials, seeking to enjoin enforcement of some or all of the new provisions in Senate Bill 1, which amended various provisions of the Texas Election Code pertaining to voter registration, voting by mail, poll watchers, and more.The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of the Committees' motion to intervene as defendants, concluding that the Committees have a right to intervene under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2). The court determined that the Committees made a timely application to intervene by right; they claim interests relating to SB 1 which is the subject of this consolidated suit; their absence from the suit may practically impede their ability to protect their interests; and the existing parties might not adequately represent those interests. Accordingly, the court remanded to allow the Committees to intervene by right in this suit. View "La Union del Pueblo Entero v. Harris County Republican Party" on Justia Law

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About seven weeks after the 2020 presidential election, Republican state legislators, individual voters, and organizations representing voters from Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—all states carried by Joseph R. Biden Jr.—sued to prevent Congress from certifying their states’ electoral results. The district court denied their motion to enjoin the counting of electoral votes, and, after the Senate certified Biden as the winner, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their case. In a post-dismissal order cataloging the suit’s “numerous shortcomings,” the district court referred plaintiffs’ counsel, Kaardal, to the Committee on Grievances for possible discipline. “When any counsel seeks to target processes at the heart of our democracy,” the district court reasoned, “the Committee may well conclude that they are required to act with far more diligence and good faith than existed here.”The D.C. Circuit dismissed an appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The district court’s referral is not a final order. Rather than fixing Kaardal’s rights and liabilities, the challenged order merely initiated disciplinary proceedings. View "Wisconsin Voters Alliance v. Harris" on Justia Law

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In 2016, the out-of-state petition circulators challenged Section 2869 of the Pennsylvania Election Code, which requires that any circulator of nomination petitions be “a qualified elector of the Commonwealth, who is duly registered and enrolled as a member of the party designated in said petition.” The district court found that the ban was not facially unconstitutional, but was unconstitutional as applied to the plaintiffs for the 2020 election only. The plaintiffs did not appeal the conclusion that the ban was not facially unconstitutional. The court declined to expand the injunctive relief to cover future elections for the plaintiffs and all similarly situated individuals. The Third Circuit held that permanent injunctive relief for all future elections is appropriate for the plaintiff circulators only, not to all similarly situated individuals, and only if the plaintiffs continue to submit to Pennsylvania’s jurisdiction. The request for permanent relief for the plaintiffs and all similarly situated individuals goes beyond the specific plaintiffs and circumstances of this litigation and seeks facial relief. A factual record specific to each similarly situated individual circulator will be necessary to determine the appropriate relief in future elections. Each individual circulator will need to demonstrate their willingness to submit to Pennsylvania’s jurisdiction for the purpose of nomination circulation. View "Benezet Consulting LLC v. Secretary Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" on Justia Law

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Lori Shavlik sought to recall Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney. Her petition was the fourth to recall Sheriff Fortney since he took office on January 1, 2020. As the fourth attempt to recall Sheriff Fortney, the charges in Shavlik’s current petition overlapped with charges brought in previous recall petitions. Shavlik raised three issues on appeal: (1) the trial court erred by finding charges 3 through 8 insufficient; (2) the trial court erred by finding charges 1(e) and 2 barred under res judicata; and (3) the trial court and the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office deprived her of a fair and impartial hearing. After review, the Washington Supreme Court rejected all three claims of error, affirmed the trial court, and awarded Sheriff Fortney costs on appeal. View "In re Recall of Fortney" on Justia Law