INDIANAPOLIS - With the appeal of a trial court's ruling in a ballot eligibility case still pending in the Indiana Supreme Court, the Indiana Attorney General's Office will object to the trial court taking further action on the case until the appeal is heard by the state's highest court.
The Attorney General's Office represents the Indiana Recount Commission in a lawsuit, IDP v. Charlie White et al. On December 22 the Marion County Circuit Court reversed the Recount Commission's unanimous ruling on White's eligibility to appear on the 2010 ballot as a Secretary of State candidate. But the trial court on January 4 stayed, or halted enforcement of, its own ruling, pending appeal by the Recount Commission and other litigants.
The Attorney General's Office on January 9 filed a motion seeking to transfer the appeal directly to the Indiana Supreme Court, the state's highest court. The plaintiffs today filed a motion in the Indiana Court of Appeals seeking to lift the stay of the trial court's original December 22 order and enforce the order on ballot eligibility. With a transfer petition already pending in the Indiana Supreme Court and awaiting consideration, the Attorney General's Office plans to object to the plaintiff's latest motion, contending that the entire matter belongs in the state's highest court, bypassing the Court of Appeals. The State's response, objecting to lifting the trial court's stay order, will be filed soon.
"What the public needs now is an objective and unambiguous ruling from the Indiana Supreme Court to bring certainty, clarity and finality to this situation, 15 months after the election. It was highly unusual for a trial court to overrule a unanimous administrative decision of the Recount Commission in a statewide election, so at the very least the trial court's ruling ought to be reviewed by the state's highest court," Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said.
The Recount Commission last June made a unanimous finding concerning candidate White's eligibility for the 2010 ballot as a candidate for Secretary of State, but when the trial court reversed that decision, the commission appealed. In the ongoing litigation, the Attorney General's Office represents the Recount Commission only and does not represent candidate White in the civil suit. The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether to take the case, and the State's next brief in the case is due February 13.
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