Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rome McGuigan Law Firm To Represent Election Committee In Court

Feather News

Andrew Houlding, an attorney with the law firm of Rome McGuigan, will represent the Election Committee in the case of Kenneth Davison v. Mohegan Tribe Election Committee according to paperwork dated yesterday, September 22.

The selection of the attorney to represent the Election Committee was not made by the Election Committee. It is believed that the Tribal Council chose the attorney from Rome McGuigan to represent the Election Committee. The Election Committee is neutral and is required to follow the Election Code as established by the Tribal Council.

At issue in the case is whether the Tribe's election code violates the Tribe's Constitution as Davison asserts. The election code, or election law, requires tribal members to choose one candidate for each elective position in an election while the Tribe's Constitution states that tribal members "shall be entitled to cast one vote for each elective position" in an election.

The election law, as it relates to the August 31 election for the Council of Elders, required tribal members to vote for four candidates because there were four positions up for grabs in that election. If a voter selected less than four candidates, as Davison did, his/her ballot was deemed "spoiled" and not counted.

Davison voted for three candidates and asserts that his ballot should be counted. "I can't imagine that the intent of the Constitution is to require tribal members to vote for candidates that they dont want to vote for but the election code (ordinance) mandates just that in its current form," according to his complaint with the Election Committee.

The Election Committee ruled that it lacks the authority to rule on the constitutionality of the election code and that they must follow the law as it is written. According to the election code, a tribal member can appeal an Election Committee decision to the Tribal Court and Davison did that last week.

"As the law is written now, tribal members are allowed to submit a ballot but they are not allowed to vote, as most people understand the term "vote." If a tribal member submitted a ballot in the August 31 election without selecting exactly half of the candidates listed on that ballot, then his or her ballot would not count."

The Election Committee has 30 days from last week to submit an answer to the complaint Davison filed in Tribal Court.