Friday, July 25, 2008

4th Circuit Splits on Fahrenholtz; Trial Court Ruling Stands … For Now

Posted By on Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 11:53 PM

The Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal has split 5-5 on Orleans School Board member Jimmy Fahrenholtz’s appeal of a trial court ruling that tossed him from the Sept. 6 Democratic primary in the Second Congressional District. The ruling came down late this afternoon (Friday, July 25). 


The effect of the “tie” vote at the appellate court is that trial Judge Nadine Ramsey’s decree tossing Fahrenholtz out of the primary stands — for now. Fahrenholtz has until noon Monday to ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to hear the case.


Technically, Fahrenholtz must first file a writ application, or a request for the high court to hear the matter. If the writ is granted, then briefs will be filed. Typically, the writ applications contain the meat of each side’s argument, and it’s possible the Supremes will order oral argument straight away. Election challenges are always fast-tracked in the courts to give candidates a quick decision — and time to campaign.


 I have not yet had a chance to read the 4th Circuit’s opinions. There are four of them: a short “per curiam” that simply announces the outcome; a long opinion by Judge Terri Love, who writes for the five judges that agrees with Ramsey’s decision at the trial court level; a 5-page dissent by Judge Max Tobias; and a brief dissent by Judge Moon Landrieu. Judges Love, Jim McKay, Joan Bernard Armstrong, Charles R. Jones and Michael Kirby voted to affirm Ramsey’s ruling at the trial level. Judges Tobias, Landrieu, Roland Belsome, Edwin Lombard and Patricia Murray voted to overturn her decision.


As the court noted in its per curiam opinion, “the judgment of the trial court is affirmed, in that this Court could not render a majority decree.” 


I hope to read all the opinions tonight and post an analysis afterward.  For those who can’t wait, or who like second opinions, check out Randall’s take on The Bald Cypress, which was not yet up as I write this, but I’m sure he’ll have something insightful to say before long. 


NOTE TO MY READERS:  I’m leaving in the morning for my annual two weeks of sanity in Red Lodge, Montana. I’m bringing my laptop with me, as always, for Gambit Weekly work, but this time I hope to be blogging as well. If all goes well, I’ll be posting images of mountain trout and writing about Montana’s magnificent views — and maybe a few comparative political pieces. (Brian Schweitzer, the governor of Montana, is considered a Democratic rising star. More on him in a future post.) We’ve just created a new “Outdoors” section in Gambit’s sports blog, so look for stuff there about Montana — and about a huge black drum that I caught last weekend on a fly fishing trip with my son Will.  Meanwhile, I’ll be reading the blogs and the online editions of the TP and others, hoping to keep up.  If past years are any indication, the fertilizer will hit the oscillator at least once while I’m gone.  It never fails. 


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