Friday, June 13, 2008

Courthouse Action, Day Two

I was at the courthouse for a couple of hours yesterday, but the hearing was being conducted backstage, you might say, and I left a little before noon. I have been told that lawyers argued their positions before the judge in the afternoon, and that the case will continue later in the month. In the meantime,The Gazette kept a reporter on the scene, and they have a wrap-up of the day's events.
A Montgomery County judge ruled Wednesday that opponents missed a February deadline to oppose the first batch of signatures introduced to put to referendum a new county law intended to protect transgendered individuals from discrimination.

However, the court battle continued Thursday as parties argued whether enough signatures were valid to put the issue up for a vote.

Jonathan Shurberg, an attorney representing Equality Maryland, argued the Montgomery County Board of Elections erred in calculating 25,001 signatures were needed because it calculated ``active voters" instead of ``registered voters" as appeared to be required by state law.

In addition, Shurberg argued that many of the signatures validated by the elections board should not be counted. He introduced a sheet showing several signatures from different people that all appeared to be signed by the same person who circulated the petition. State law also requires those signing petitions to sign their name as it appears on the voter registration form with either the person's full name or middle initial.

Attorney Kevin Karpinski, representing the elections board, said that the state board only requires the county board to verify the signatures by making sure they are registered voters.

It is not their job to determine if the signatures were all signed by the same person, he said. Opponents of new transgender law win first round

Read that last sentence again. The Board of Elections is saying it's not their job to "determine if the signatures were all signed by the same person."

This is an interesting situation. Everybody on both sides understands that the petitions for a referendum to re-legalize discrimination are bogus. I've looked at them, lawyers on both sides have looked at them, the judge has seen them, they are full of bad signatures. The Citizens for Responsible Whatever did not have enough legal signatures to put a referendum on the ballot, and neither side wants to say they did. The Board of Elections certified the signatures because the names corresponded to names of registered voters, that's all.

That's their case.

A group of citizens sued the Board, saying they should not have allowed the referendum to go forward because the Board didn't really check the petitions, and the Board's defense is, so what? It's not our job to check them.

You gotta admit, that's pretty bold.

The good guys come back at that one, too.
But Shurberg argued that some of the names approved on the petition by the county board were not even registered voters.

If Circuit Judge Robert A. Greenberg decided upon either issue in favor of Equality Maryland, the Citizens for Responsible Government would not have enough signatures to have the referendum on the ballot.

The group opposed to the county’s discrimination law, passed unanimously by the County Council and signed by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), collected about 32,000 signatures though the elections board said it needed 25,001 to have the necessary 5 percent of the county’s active voters. He also contended previous court cases require election boards to base the number of signatures off registered voters and not active voters.

The list of registered voters would be significantly higher than so-called active voters so the amount of signatures required also would be much higher.

There are a lot of issues on the table here, aren't there? This last thing is interesting. There are registered voters, and there are active voters. As I understand it, if you don't vote for a couple of years you're still registered but they don't consider you "active." So next time you go back you'll have to show some ID, sign up again, I don't know what. Anyway, it turns out that the Board of Elections told the CRW they needed 25,001 signatures, based on the number of active voters in the county, when they were supposed to use the number of registered voters. That could turn out to be a big deal.

The Gazette summarizes from the first day:
Shurberg argued roughly 12,500 of the 32,000 signatures collected by the group failed to meet all of the requirements of the state for a referendum petition.

But Greenberg’s initial ruling that the challenge was issued too late for the first batch of signatures turned in knocked the number of disputed signatures down to 6,250.

Equality Maryland would appeal if it loses on the other issues because the elections board had not notified the public it had validated the first batch of signatures until well after the 10 days allowed to challenge them had passed, Shurberg said.

‘‘How do you know when you’re supposed to act?” he said. By not informing the public the first batch of signatures had been validated, it violated the due process rights of the public.

State law only requires the elections board notify the sponsors of the petition that it had certified the signatures and not the public, Karpinski said.

Greenberg also threw out a challenge to the referendum that the wording from the Citizens for Responsible Government was confusing and incorrectly stated what the county had passed.

It's not mentioned here, but I have been told that Judge Greenberg also ruled to give the Citizens for a Responsible Government standing in the case, which the Board of Elections wanted. I missed the arguments on that, but maybe somebody will brief us in the comments.

It seems to me that this story has become quite interesting in a surprising way. The Board of Elections was sued because they hadn't really checked the signatures. Their defense is that it's not their job to check the signatures.

That means that anybody can pick up a phone book and copy the names onto a sheet of paper, submit it to the Board and have any law put to a referendum vote. If you copy enough of them, there will be a sufficient number of registered voters, and that's all that matters.

The interesting thing is that even the Board of Elections refuses to argue that the signatures are in fact good ones. Everybody knows they're junk, the legal question is whether the Board of Elections is supposed to ensure that only legitimate signatures are counted. You'd think that'd be part of their job, wouldn't you?

32 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Everybody on both sides understands that the petitions for a referendum to re-legalize discrimination are bogus."

This is a load of crap from the crapmaster.

What we keep hearing is that, on one page of signatures, five signatures seem to be by the same person. There may be some reasonable explanation but, regardless, we're talking about five signatures. The way the loonies come up with their inflated numbers is to say all signatures collected by the same volunteer are, then, bogus. Based on this thinking, it's surprising that they aren't seeking the invalidation of all signatures since in any petition there are bound to be some problems with every volunteer's collected signatures. Makes you think these signatures must be of an unusually exceptional quality if Equality is only arguing against a partial sample with the broad criteria they're using.

What's really funny is that Equality says they shouldn't have to worry about the deadline because "no one told them", but then thinks CRG should have attained more signatures than they were informed they needed. Man, what hypocrisy!

I think we're finding that the law tends to slant toward petitioners in the interpretation of these laws. Why? Because, allowing a bunch of technicalities to rule the day would basically allow the government to nullify any attempt by voters to check a government that grossly misrepresents its constituency.

And who loses if the referendum goes forward? No one really. It just moves the whole thing to the court of public opinion.

This is a democracy, after all.

June 13, 2008 10:52 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Is it really true that someone forged a bunch of signatures himself? There's got to be some law against that. I'm sure there's a commandmant or two.

rrjr

June 13, 2008 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's an allegation, Robert. The accused hasn't been given an opportunity to defend themself.

What's clear is that there is not much the lunatic fringe wouldn't do to stop the electorate from expressing themselves on this issue.

June 13, 2008 11:26 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Robert, this was one that the lawyer put up on a slide for the court to see. Of five signatures on the page, four were done with the same unusual handwriting as the person who certified the petition. That same certifier had turned in 132 petitions, and the lawyer said that once fraud had been shown on one page, there should be a presumption of fraud on the others certified by that person.

I don't know how many others there were like that, he only showed the one slide. There were many other kinds of violations, I think he showed this one because it was exactly like an example that the judge had used.

Nobody challenged the observation that they were all done by the same hand, and I doubt that anybody will.

JimK

June 13, 2008 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Nobody challenged the observation that they were all done by the same hand,"

CRG, at the time, hadn't been granted status as a party of interest. Again, the accuser hasn't been given the opportunity to answer.

In the event that the Board of Elections is found to not adequately checked the signatures, that still doesn't mean Equality becomes the certifying party. The BOE will simply be instructed to go through the signatures again in a more thorough manner.

June 13, 2008 12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CRG was granted status so the score through Thursday:

CRG's attempt to empower voters 3

TTF's attempt to thwart democracy 0

This is turning into a rout!

June 13, 2008 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hang in there, TFF

it's not over yet and you have more people rooting for you than you know.

June 13, 2008 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, and please keep coming to the courthouse and sitting around all day

maybe, to make a statement, you should all come dressed as a gender other than you are (assuming you can still figure out what that is)

while court's not in session this weekend, you can head down to the big gay pride parade

I heard they need some more volunteers for the "whips and chains" float

June 13, 2008 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh yeah

which one?

June 13, 2008 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are being highly silly anonymous.

June 13, 2008 5:23 PM  
Anonymous Maryanne Arnow said...

Wow -

It realy is surprising to me that people that would, in open society, probably be regarded as otherwise mature and reasonably intelligent people to those that know you.

I am considered a reasonably nature and intelligent person, and very warm and gracious to almost anyone that i meet in general.

I find it hard not to be dismayed at the level of immature nastiness and truly foul and unecessarily inflammatory comments that some of you continue to make here.

If you live by a Christian or other theologic belief sytem that makes it difficult or impossible for you to have acceptance of the differences between people no matter what we may look like on the surface, i understand and am compelled by decency to accept that, even if i dont like it or agree with it.

You and i still bleed the same color and still have the same human emotions, and suffer the same struggles just living in this life as all other human beings that exist in the world.

If your belief system at one time suggested that you judge not because you are in fact not the judge, and lest you be judged harshly yourself, then do that.

If your belief syetem also suggested that you live with love and acceptance for all others, no matter how much you may disagree with them, then do that.

Otherwise you are just a truly hypocritical and bigoted person that has no standing in decent mature, and intelligent dialogue that may - just maybe at some time in our lives, give the chance to establish better understanding and acceptance through the use of decent and civil dialogue and truly decent behaviors towards others.

Maybe your belief system has suggested this can also occur without harsh or hostile and inflammatory judgement of others as you so espouse to so fervently believe in, yet still continue to engage in.

This would make you no more than a common bigot and a true hypocrite, and lessen your standing and ability to influenece or truly communicate amongst those truly fairminded, open-hearted, mature and loving people in the world.

More later, but that's enough for now.

Lovingly always,

Respectfully yours,
Sincerely,

Maryanne A. Arnow

June 13, 2008 5:31 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

It would be nice if someone bothered to listen or check their facts.

CRG was invited to file another amicus brief -- they were not given standing. And they were probably invited to file because it is clear at this point their interests and the BoE's interests are diverging.

June 13, 2008 6:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous"...you said: "maybe, to make a statement, you should all come dressed as a gender other than you are (assuming you can still figure out what that is)

while court's not in session this weekend, you can head down to the big gay pride parade

I heard they need some more volunteers for the "whips and chains" float"

OUTRAGEOUS! It is almost impossible to go beyond what Maryanne has already said about your puerile, stupid, ignorant comments but I just said it...your remarks are puerile, stupid, and ignorant. I feel a little sad for you because it is obvious that you have absolutely not one iota of self-respect. Furthermore, your comment about the "whips and chains" float clearly indicates your own closeted desire to be on that float. Pitiful!!
I'm Embarrassed For You

June 13, 2008 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

My wonderful students walked across the stage, accepted their diplomas, accepted the recognition of their families, friends and teachers for the work of their childhood, and entered adulthood. Just too fabulous for words. Let's hear it for the class of 2008.

rrjr

June 13, 2008 8:02 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Wyatt,

You should retake your NSL class. This is a representative democracy, not a direct democracy. As attorney Shurberg pointed out, once you fulfill the statutes then you have the right to petition, not before. That is the law.

If you don't like it, then work to change it. As he also pointed out to the judge, it has been changed before, and it surely will be changed again. Most recently it was changed to ensure that all registered voters got a chance to vote and to petition. I imagine that is something you'd like -- empowering all voters.

Unfortunately for you, that means the required number of signatures is actually higher than the number you collected which were certified by the Board, even before any of the challenges have been ruled upon.

Nice try.

June 13, 2008 9:41 PM  
Anonymous Derrick said...

My students did the same, Robert.

The President and VP (who are twins) of my Gay-Straight Alliance (one gay, one straight) graduated last week.

It was great to see them walk across the stage. I am proud that our next generation is full of God's Word and believe that all peoples should be treated as equal.

As much as AnonBigot would like to think, it's NOT God.

So stop thinking you are, AnonBigot.


"Jude and Ye, too, shall be judged"

June 13, 2008 10:24 PM  
Anonymous Derrick said...

Oops... I am the Typo King, what can I say?

Jude= Judge.

My bad.

Thx.

June 13, 2008 11:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This is a representative democracy, not a direct democracy. As attorney Shurberg pointed out, once you fulfill the statutes then you have the right to petition, not before. That is the law."

This is a representative democracy with safeguards to protect us if these representatives diverge in a significant way from what the same result would have been under a direct democracy. This protects us when radical special interests with a goal to corrupt our society worm their way into the local government. That's the case here and you are the worm.

Citizens do in fact have the right to petition their government for the redress of grievances under the Constitution and their right isn't hindered by a requirement to jump through any hoops.

While you've confused your language (how did a moron like you get into Columbia?), it is true that one must demonstrate that a significant portion (5%) of the voters want a referendum on the ballot to have the government place it on. They have to think of some rules to figure out to determine that but, in this case, even as your friend, Diamond Jim, has conceded, its clear that at least that number of citizens are concerned about the new gay imitiative to force business owners to let guys in the girls' room. (don't give us any crap about how that's a misinterpretation of the law- the judge shot you down on that point that you've been howling out all Spring)

You still seem sure that the word games the Equality lawyers are playing will succeed.

Sorry, Charlie, the judge ain't that stupid!

June 14, 2008 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few of you guys seem a little offended by the "whips and chains" joke above but you know as well as I that there will be such a float along with a number of other sick, blasphemous and otherwise morally and socially decadent floats at this parade.

These gay pride events demonstrate perfectly what the local gay community is proud of and it ain't pretty. Even that gay rag, the Blade, commented on it last year.

I hope you guys will take the opportunity to go down, look around and, then, sit on the curb and consider: "what have I gotten myself into?"

June 14, 2008 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Unfortunately for you, that means the required number of signatures is actually higher than the number you collected which were certified by the Board, even before any of the challenges have been ruled upon"

This from the same person who was caught on film lying to petitioners that their signatures collected in front of a grocery store would be thrown out.

As paid staff of the legislator who authored the bill being disputed, this lie takes on a much more sinister tone. This type of Nazi-like tactic is not acceptable in a democracy and your boss should have resigned in disgrace.

When the government starts trying to intimidate citizens from exercising their constitutional rights, a line has been crossed.

Oh well, I digress. The judge doesn't seem inclined toward any of your other silly arguments.

Why do you think he'll endorse this one?

June 14, 2008 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 14, 2008 10:04 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Because it's the law.

Btw, I just love it when fascistic, religious extremists start bringing up the Nazis. Ever hear of Godwin's Law?

Oh, and I never said what a judge would do, on camera or elsewhere. How could I possibly know what a judge would do? I was referring to your agreement with Giant, which you blatantly violated. It's their business to choose to prosecute you for that violation.

But, Wyatt, I thought you were so sincerely concerned about "democracy," and allowing everyone a chance to express himself? Why don't you stand up for the disenfranchised inactive voters/ C'mon, let's hear it. I'm sure the judge would welcome an amicus brief from you defending those voters.

June 14, 2008 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 14, 2008 10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Oh, and I never said what a judge would do, on camera or elsewhere. How could I possibly know what a judge would do? I was referring to your agreement with Giant, which you blatantly violated. It's their business to choose to prosecute you for that violation."

You said the petitions would be thrown out. This type of lie from a government employee might lead the citizen to believe it had the force of law. Your boss should resign.

The evil excesses of the Nazi party were first began by a couple of gay guys who were into S&M and got their jollies beating up people. There is some circumstantial evidence that Hitler was gay too.

June 14, 2008 10:28 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, I am on the brink of banning you. This web site allows and encourages a diversity of opinions. We have supported a platform for you to express yourself, even though nobody else agrees with you, and my decision is not influenced by the polarity of your political views. In some ways you have really done us a service by showing the world exactly what we're up against. TTF couldn't invent someone like you; every day you come here and remind us of the dangerous, ignorant attitudes that we need to protect our community from. But I will not allow you to personally insult people here in a hurtful way.

It's clear that this gender identity business is too much for you to understand; your subjective gender was obvious for you, and so it should be obvious for everyone. It turns out that there are people in the world who are not like you. Some of them are fine, moral, intelligent people, but that doesn't concern you, you want to whine about the ways they're different from you, and you think it is your right to insult people simply because you can't understand them. You may have that right, but not here. I won't put up with it.

I won't spend my weekend reading every comment to determine if you have crossed the line. Twice this morning I have had to delete your statements. If it happens again I will simply ban your IP number.

JimK

June 14, 2008 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've invited you to do so many times but you know as well as me that your problem would be solved if you simply ask Dana to stop disrespecting the anonymity feature everytime the Dr hears something the Dr doesn't like.

Your choice. Doesn't matter to me.

June 14, 2008 1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"don't give us any crap about how that's a misinterpretation of the law- the judge shot you down on that point that you've been howling out all Spring)"

When did the judge say this ?
Wed or Thur and at approximately what time...

If the judge shut them down agreeing that law does not have any protection for public accomodations, I really, really want that quote....

I also want to email it to Mike Knapp.

Any insight ?
thanks anon

June 14, 2008 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When did the judge say this ?"

Wednesday. Early. He said the argument that CRG misrepresented the law when collecting petitions was false.

Don't worry. Knapp already knows this. He knew it before Wednesday.

June 14, 2008 10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the subject Plaintiff’s attorney missing date for filing
1. There were numerous reports in the media about CRG’s filing dates
2. The Election Laws spell it out if you bother to read it
3. Equality’s lawyer J. Shurberg had help from Lambda Legal- Susan Sommer and Natalie Chin along with five attorneys, Joshua Kaplan, Danielle Sims, Robert Stolworthy, Carissa Suarez and Elijah Swiney of the law firm of Arnold & Porter.
4. Let’s see, that would be a total of 8 lawyers.
5. It is the lawyer’s job to keep dates straight and I don’t think any judge will buy their argument that no one told them.
6. There was no legal requirement for the BOE to send out special notice
7. There is a thing called a telephone.
8. Sounds like a malpractice suit against these lawyers

June 15, 2008 9:33 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

I am constantly amazed by the prideful ignorance of the Anons from the CRG on this blog.

1) The judge was referring to the claim that the language of the petition -- bill vs. act -- was confusing. He said nothing about the lies and misrepresentations associated with signature collection, because we didn't make an issue of them.

2) You are confusing the date when the petitions had to be delivered with the date on which the first batch was certified. Given that the Board ignored those phone calls to which you refer snidely, and on one occasion, at least, lied to us about the certification, then, no, there is a very serious due process claim here. If necessary, this will be appealed, though I doubt it will come to that.

June 15, 2008 9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If necessary, this will be appealed, though I doubt it will come to that."

It will come to that and you'll lose. The law is slanted to favor the right of citizens to control their government not those who want to prevent democratic processes.

Try Russia. The government always wins there.

June 16, 2008 7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, pay attention: the government is being sued here by the citizens who want the law to be followed.

June 16, 2008 8:03 AM  

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