(Updated) A cloud of uncertainty will linger until the Nov. 2 election because it’s likely Superior Court Judge Julia Aurigemma won’t issue a decision about whether to dismiss Republican Martha Dean’s lawsuit against her opponent.
“I don’t anticipate there’s going to be a ruling today,” Aurigemma said Friday. “I’ll attempt to have a decision, but I can’t promise it will be prior to Tuesday.”
Dean filed the lawsuit against Democratic candidate George Jepsen and the Secretary of the State’s office arguing Jepsen is not qualified to hold the office following the release of the Supreme Court’s written decision in the Susan Bysiewicz case.
Jepsen’s attorney David Golub argued Friday in court that there are no facts to prove his client, an attorney for 26 years, isn’t qualified.
“Voters on Tuesday can decide who is qualified,” he said. He argued it would be unprecedented for the court to interfere in the electoral process and postpone the election or remove Jepsen’s name from the ballots in 169 cities and towns.
When the case was first filed Golub alleged that he offered to provide Dean’s attorney Michael Taylor, of Horton, Shields and Knox, with an affidavit proving once and for all Jepsen was qualified. He said Taylor declined the offer.
“What he actually said was maybe after the election,” Golub said.
Taylor said that’s absolutely not true and he’d withdraw the case tomorrow if one was provided.
“Nobody needs to be doing this,” Taylor said.
Both Golub and Perry Zinn-Rowthorn, an associate attorney general representing the Secretary of the State’s office, said Bysieiwcz lacks the statutory power to question a candidates qualifications. They said the parties, in this case the Democratic Party and the Working Families Party, were the ones that nominated Jepsen and placed his name on the ballot so they should be whom Dean and her attorney are suing.
Golub argued that by letting the case move forward the court would be interfering with the statutory rights of the two parties, in addition to the rights of the electorate.
Zinn-Rowthorn said Bysiewicz lacks the statutory jurisdiction to remove Jepsen’s name from the ballot. He said Dean, despite what she may think, doesn’t have the right to run against somebody who is qualified.
Attorney’s for the state and Jepsen argued that, as absurd as it sounds, Dean doesn’t have the right to run against a qualified candidate.
Their argument was based on a 2008 lawsuit in which a Connecticut resident challenged the qualifications of President Barack Obama and asked for his name to be removed from the ballot. The Supreme Court ruled that it was Bysiewicz’s job to make certain Obama met the nominating qualifications set forth by the party, but it wasn’t her job to track down his birth certificate to ascertain whether he was a natural-born U.S. Citizen. Click here to read the decision in that case.
Taylor said the 2008 case doesn’t apply to Dean’s case and is misquoted in briefs by the defendants.
In 2006 the Green Party nominated Nancy Burton, a disbarred attorney, who Golub said would have be unable to fulfill the duties of the office. Regardless of that fact, Burton received more than 17,000 votes, he said.
Taylor argued the hearing Friday should have been about Jepsen’s qualifications, but that Golub and Zinn-Rowthorn, made it about standing instead. He said an affidavit from Jepsen would clear up the entire matter, “but perhaps he doesn’t have that much experience.”
At a Friday afternoon Capitol press conference Golub said once the election is held the case will be moot because Dean, no longer an opponent, will have no legal grounds to continue with the case. He said the state is constitutionally required to declare a winner in all of the races for constitutional offices.
Asked to detail his litigation experience Jepsen said the term “litigation” is broad, but for the record he worked 10 years for the Carpenters Union; five at a small firm Abate and Fox in Stamford where he did everything from probate to criminal cases; five at Shipman and Goodwin in Hartford where he did no litigation; and he’s been with Cowdery, Ecker, and Murphy now since 2003. At his current law firm, he said he’s worked on four Supreme Court cases, Dean says she only found evidence of three.