Appeal court throws out judgeship ballot case

By Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 8/8/18

TALLAHASSEE – The 1st District Court of Appeal handed down a ruling Wednesday that will leave in place a lower court judge’s ruling about a local judge’s race.

Incumbent Clay County Judge …

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Appeal court throws out judgeship ballot case


TALLAHASSEE – The 1st District Court of Appeal handed down a ruling Wednesday that will leave in place a lower court judge’s ruling about a local judge’s race.

Incumbent Clay County Judge Kristina Mobley will not face challenger Lucy Hoover in a special election based on the appeal court’s 8-page ruling.

In June, Mobley filed a suit against Hoover’s qualification as a candidate in the upcoming election. In the suit, Mobley’s attorney argued that not only did Hoover fail to complete qualifying documents properly, but she failed to turn them in on time as well.

Hoover defended her position saying she was in the Supervisor of Elections office, filing her paperwork at the time of deadline. Clay County Supervisor of Elections Chris Chambless, allowed Hoover to qualify at the time because, in his eyes, the situation was akin to a voter standing in line.

Chambless said if a voter is standing in line to vote before the deadline time, they will be allowed to vote even if they don’t get the chance to cast their ballot until after the poll closing deadline. In Hoover’s instance, Chambless felt that because she was in the office before deadline filing her paperwork, she should be allowed to qualify, even if her qualifying documents weren’t turned in until after the qualifying period ended.

This court case ended with the Judge Howard M. Maltz ruling in favor of Mobley. Shortly after, Hoover filed an appeal to the 1st District Court of Appeal. Chambless did not join Hoover in the appeal, despite his team joining Hoover in defense of the original court case.

“I agree with the previous position [allowing Hoover to qualify] that the public is best served when the process is allowed to complete and that my role as Supervisor was not necessarily on the basis of time to disqualify a candidate,” Chambless said Wednesday. “However, the court’s ruling was in opposition to that thought...we adopted the court’s position and adjusted our policies accordingly.”

“For those reasons, I didn’t join the appeal,” Chambless said.

Now, over a month later, the appeal case is complete and the judge threw out Hoover’s appeal and instead affirmed Maltz’s original decision. According to the official ruling, Hoover based her argument on a case called Bayne v. Glisson, which saw a person attempting to qualify for a state legislative seat, but due to extraneous and external issues, was unable to do so on time. This person had all documents completed properly – they simply needed to turn them in. Unfortunately, when the person arrived to the office, circumstances beyond their control, such as incorrect directions, large crowds and a lack of signage, prevented them from turning the documents in on time. After the official court case, Bayne v. Glisson, the judge ruled in favor of this person and they were allowed to qualify to be on the ballot.

According to the ruling of Hoover’s appeal, her reliance on Bayne was misplaced.

“Accordingly, unlike Bayne where circumstances beyond the candidate’s control caused him to miss the qualifying deadline, the evidence here supports the trial court’s dispositive finding that, ‘nothing prevented Hoover from submitting all of the necessary paperwork to qualify for the judicial race other than her waiting until the last minute to complete and submit required documents,’,” the ruling states.

Simply put, whereas in Bayne v. Glisson, the person attempting to qualify only failed to do so on time because of circumstances beyond their control, but Hoover failed to qualify on time due only to actions of herself. No outside circumstances prevented her from qualifying on time – only she prevented herself from doing that by waiting until the last minute, according to the ruling.

Because of this ruling, Hoover will not see her name on the ballot come fall.

“For the reasons stated above (and because we find the other arguments raised by Hoover on appeal to be unpreserved and/or meritless), we affirm the final judgement ordering the [Supervisor of Elections] to decertify Hoover as a qualified candidate and remove her name,” the official ruling reads.

Hoover said this appeal decision has left her disappointed.

“I’m truly disappointed,” Hoover said, Wednesday morning. “This appeal wasn’t about me. It was about the voters of Clay County losing the opportunity to vote on their next county court judge.”

While she’s unclear of her next step in this process, she’s certainly considering the Florida Supreme Court.

“I’m considering the [Florida Supreme Court],” Hoover said. “It’d be the right thing to do, simply as a matter of principle and for the people of Clay County.”


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