Sunday, July 24, 2016

Madison attorney's candidacy for Election Commissioner meets the grave.

 A Madison County attorney had a bit of a conniption at last week's meeting of the Madison County Board of Supervisors last week when things didn't go her way.   Janice Jackson attempted to qualify for the District 1 Election Commissioner election but failed to submit her qualifying papers to the Chancery Clerk before the deadline.  She asked the Board to accept her candidacy but the Board rejected her request.  The Madison County Journal reported:

A Madison woman who wanted to run for District 1 Election Commissioner is blaming the Circuit Clerk for not filing her paperwork with the Chancery Clerk and wants a do-over.

Janice Jackson, an attorney, pleaded before the Board of Supervisors on Monday to allow her name on the ballot this November.

Jackson says she turned in her paperwork to Circuit Clerk Anita Wray on June 2, four days before the filing deadline. Wray’s office was to check and make sure the signatures of 50 people on a petition were all registered voters in the appropriate district, Jackson said.

From there, Jackson said she thought Wray would send the qualifying paperwork to Chancery Clerk Ronny Lott, where, by statute, it must be sent.

However, the paperwork was instead misfiled and put with campaign finance reports by a deputy clerk. Jackson didn’t realize the paperwork never made it to Lott until late-June.

She blames the mishap on a “technical irregularity.”

“I knew for 100 percent she was gonna take those papers over to Ronny Lott,” she told supervisors.

“Whose responsibility is it to take it from the circuit clerk to the chancery clerk,” Board President Trey Baxter asked.

Board Attorney Katie Bryant Snell said it was the responsibility of the candidate.

Jackson wasn’t finished though, telling Baxter he “might want to sit back and relax” and she produced stamped exhibits and began questioning “witnesses” at the podium.

Jackson had her husband, who initially dropped off the form to Wray, sworn in before “testifying” that he dropped off the paperwork before the filing deadline.

Jackson then had Wray come up tot he podium and swear-in on a Bible before being questioned, too.

Wray said she never told her that she would deliver her form to Lott’s office and she was mistaken.

“No, no I never told you that,” Wray said. “It’s never been my policy to take anything over to Ronny’s office for any candidate.”

Jackson then called Lott up to the podium and when she asked to swear him in, Lott said he was sworn in when he was elected Chancery Clerk.

After Jackson’s line of questioning, Baxter called Wray back up to the podium and asked her what the normal process was.

“I’m gonna object,” Jackson interrupted.

Baxter then began repeatedly saying that Jackson needed to sit down.

“She has the mic and you need to sit down,” he said.

Wray said the candidates themselves take the paperwork to the chancery clerk’s office.

District 4 Supervisor David Bishop told Jackson that since she was an attorney she should know how important it is to turn over documents to the correct party.

“I would think with your knowledge of laws, statues and regulations…that was your responsibility to take it to the chancery clerk,” he said.

“No, it’s my responsibility to have it there,” she responded.

The tit-for-tat continued for another few minutes before they decided to take the matter into executive session under pending litigation since Jackson announced her plans to fight this in court.
After executive session, supervisors voted to reject her filing paperwork because it was late. Article.

Kingfish note: This problem sounds vaguely familiar. So familiar that a check of the JJ archives reveals that a similar problem erupted in Hinds County four years ago.  Readers may remember Election Commissioner Bobbie Graves submitted her qualifying papers a day after the deadline.  JJ reported  in 2012:

 Hinds County Ward 2 Election Commissioner Bobbie Graves did not submit her qualifying papers Monday afternoon as required by law, although she did submit her fifty signatures required by law as well, to the circuit clerk. June 4 at 5:00 pm was the deadline for candidates for election commissioner to submit their qualifying papers to the Chancery Clerk. Ms. Graves did not do so until after 9:00 AM on June 5.

So Ms. Graves did not submit her qualifying papers to the Chancery Clerk before the deadline but did submit them to the Circuit Clerk.  Earlier post reporting her disqualification.  The statute states:

 "Candidates for county election commissioner shall qualify by filing with the clerk of the board of supervisors of their respective counties a petition personally signed by not less than fifty (50) qualified electors of the supervisors district in which they reside, requesting that they be a candidate, by 5:00 p.m. not later than the first Monday in June of the year in which the election occurs and unless the petition is filed within the required time, their names shall not be placed upon the ballot. All candidates shall declare in writing their party affiliation, if any, to the board of supervisors, and such party affiliation shall be shown on the official ballot.

The petition shall have attached thereto a certificate of the registrar showing the number of qualified electors on each petition, which shall be furnished by the registrar on request." Section 23-25-213 of the Mississippi Code

 Get that? Qualification is a two-step process.  The candidate gets fifty signatures and submits them to the Circuit Clerk for the verification of their voter registration.  The candidate then submits the qualifying papers and certified signatures to the Chancery Clerk.  The statute says nothing about the Circuit Clerk handing the qualifying papers over to the Chancery Clerk.  Ms. Graves went to court and did not like the answer she received from the bench:

The Board was right in rejecting Ms. Jackson's appeal. Ms. Graves does not possess the brightest bulb and her appeal failed because she did not follow a specific part of the law. Ms. Jackson will probably fare no better in court since it is harder for an attorney to claim ignorance of the law. Ms. Wray is correct and should be supported by the Board. It is Ms. Jackson's duty to make sure her qualifying papers are submitted to the Chancery Clerk before the deadline.


Anonymous said...

Ridiculous. It's always the candidate's responsibility to get the signatures certified and take the qualifying petition to the proper office by the filing deadline. She needs to save her money and try again next time.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if this mensa with an [alleged] law degree (Dear God, let it be a degree from the Mississippi black bears) will break down and admit that she does not konw the difference between the circuit clerk and the chancery clerk?

Anonymous said...

I think in some rural counties they do pass the paperwork over as Ms. Jackson said. That is not in the statutes but is done as courtesy.

Anonymous said...

The funniest thing by far is that this lady wants to be in charge of elections, yet can't follow the rules.

Fifth Circus said...

I have never seen such a junior-varsity display of theatrics. Calling people from the audience to the podium and pretending to swear them in and questioning them in front of the Board.

Congratulations to Baxter for telling this clown (three times) to SIT DOWN!

Anonymous said...

Since the papers were misfiled and not inspected before the deadline and the clerk failed to follow her procedures...

Jackson will win this.

Anonymous said...

Arguing in front of a group of people that were themselves elected and hence know how to file their papers correctly - smart! This woman is a buffoon!

Anonymous said...

Is she drunk??

Kingfish said...

The Supreme Court cases she cited and discussed dealt with the fact that AG opinions are not binding in a court of law. No kidding. No one has disputed that fact or said they were not. You are correct in that she might have a case since the clerk misfiled it. However, she also admitted she didn't check on it for several weeks. That is going to hurt her case. The next question is why didn't she check before the deadline if her signatures had been verified or if her qualifying papers had been accepted.

Then there is the board attorney. She is citing an AG opinion apparently discussing Bobbie Grave's snafu but it never occurred to her to google the case because if she had, she would've seen that there is a Hinds County case that dealt with this issue and as Ms. Jackson said, court opinions have a force of law that are not carried by AG opinion. One more example of Ms. Snell being in over her head.

Word to the Board President. There is a bailiff in the room. If someone refuses to sit down and wants to carry on, call the bailiff. That is his job.

Anonymous said...

This is a joke right??? I mean I would expect Stokes to pull something like this but not a Madison Co woman... guess Madison Co is starting the journey down the drain

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure this was a "moot court" procedure performed by a first year law student. Anyone so inept would never be able to present a case with this very poor preparation and disregard for legal procedures.

Anonymous said...

The appeal burden is on win she must make a record, which she did, and prove that the board acted arbitrarily and capriciously in making their ruling.

Usually appellants get the shaft at this level and get no chance to "make a record."

Those guffawing over her actions have never spent much time in Chancery Court....this is exactly how presentations and testimony is taken.

The clerk admitting that she failed to follow her own guidelines is what makes this case winnable by Jackson.....otherwise I think she would be toast.

And note that this tidbit did not come out until the hearing....which is why these exercises can be fruitful.

Anonymous said...

Did any of you watch the video and listen to the Chancery Clerk when Ms Jackson call him to the podium and attempted to "swear" him in? He told her that the forum was not a court of law but he would humor her.

Anonymous said...

As Bugs would say, what a maroon! She's the last person that needs to be an election commissioner since she can't understand a simple rule. Perhaps she should hire Bobby Graves as the office manager of her esteemed law firm.

Anonymous said...

Actually, 2:10, he said he was sworn in when he took office.

Anonymous said...

Accolades to this woman for her outstanding "hissy pitchin"!! I predict you ain't seen nothing yet! Those clerks have a job to do and didn't do it! I know, I know..............good help is hard to find

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