Maryland Scramble Goes To Court: #NoTermLimits

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Last week, I indicated I was going to be spending a lot of time on non-blog stuff for a bit. I didn’t really say why. But since it’s been reported in the media, it’s no great revelation to say that I am representing former Rockville City Councilmember Tom Moore in a legal challenge against the term limits charter amendment petition filed by perennial gadfly and failed candidate Robin Ficker.

I still can’t get too much into the weeds on what’s happening, but here’s a broad outline. We identified a broad pattern of alterations and additions to the petition signatures that Ficker and his folks made on the petition pages after they were signed. Despite a very, very constrained time schedule, a team of volunteers reviewed over 80% of the over 12,000 signatures approved by the Board of Elections and found significant problems with just under 4,000 of them.

The trial judge in Rockville, where the case was filed, didn’t agree with our analysis and dismissed the case this week (we’re waiting for the final order to be filed). However, believing that the Court of Appeals in Annapolis will see it differently, we will be filing an appeal early this coming week. Not sure what the schedule will be, but it will be fast – we’ll have a ruling from the Court of Appeals in the next several weeks.

At some point, the case will be scheduled for oral argument, and that’s when you can indulge in some audience participation. Video of oral arguments in the Court of Appeals are streamed live and are also archived. So you can watch my  assuredly brilliant presentation yourself as it happens. I’ll have links when we get closer to the date for argument.

This will be the fourth case of this type that I’ve argued since 2008. And the stakes are the highest they’ve ever been – an effort to institute term limits in Montgomery County for councilmembers and the county executive. I don’t like it on the merits; but the case is not about term limits, but instead about compliance with a less than crystal clear statute.  I’m hopeful the Court of Appeals will strike this matter from the ballot due to the failure of the petition sponsors to comply strictly with the requirements of that law the prior cases of the Court of Appeals interpreting it.

So now you’re up to date. I’ll have a few hopefully interesting politics posts today and tomorrow (first up, “Why Not To Panic”) and then we’ll see what kind of schedule the Court of Appeals gives us.

One thought on “Maryland Scramble Goes To Court: #NoTermLimits

  1. Tim Willard

    Democrats used this tactic to invalidate a petition to try to overturn MoCos new civil rights law, I think it was 8 years ago. Initially the Court of Appeals handed down a very strict interpretation of the petition law. But a few years later when the Firefighters tried to submit a petition and found that it was virtually impossible to submit a valid petition under the new rules they sued and the court had to back track from their earlier ruling. Although they didn’t admit it, they essentially ruled that they had made a mistake in their earlier ruling.

    Given that recent history I don’t think the Court of Appeals is going to have the stomach to get itself in another mess like it did before.

    Democrats need to have faith in democracy and not try to win battles by making petitioning more difficult. It may be the “bad guy’s” petition this year but next year you’ll have screwed the good guys from being able to exercise their democratic rights.


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