December 19, 2014

In another strange twist…

Two weeks after green light, Martin removed from race ... again

By Tim Barnum
Staff writer
Posted

ARENAC COUNTY — On Aug. 21 it was settled that Tawas attorney Christopher Martin would, in fact be one of three candidates for 23rd Circuit Court Judge. On Sept. 4, however, a Michigan Supreme Court decision reversed the Court of Appeals decision that temporarily implanted Martin on the ballot.

The Supreme Court reversal came after incumbent 23rd Circuit Court Judge, Ronald Bergeron, took action on Aug. 27.

“I filed an application for leave to appeal, in other words, permission to appeal, with the Supreme Court,” Bergeron said, adding Martin was given until Sept. 2 to file a response to his appeal. “The Supreme Court affirmed the original decision of the Bureau of Elections (Secretary of State).”

The decision Bergeron refers to was a ruling that removed Martin from the Circuit Court ballot back in April, after he filed too few signatures (158 when 200-400 were necessary) due to incorrect information given to him from the Secretary of State. Upon hearing the news, Martin collected 200 more signatures, however, the signatures were collected after the filing deadline.

And then the Soap Opera unraveled.

Martin filed a lawsuit against the Secretary of State and an injunctive order by Ingham County’s 30th Circuit Court Judge William Collette allowed Martin to once again continue his bid at a Judgeship.

That decision was made June 10 and Bergeron and fellow incumbent judge, William Myles, attempted unsuccessfully to intervene less than 24 hours prior to the case.

The two judges were denied intervention due to Collette’s decision that they had no standing in the case and they were not an aggrieved party.

From there, Bergeron and Myles took their case to the Michigan Supreme Court, which referred them to the Michigan Court of Appeals. In a 2-1 decision, the Appellate Court sided with Martin.

“I felt that decision was incorrect,” Bergeron said. “If you feel that the next higher court reached a wrong conclusion, you have the right to file for an application for leave to appeal.”

And as mentioned above, Bergeron did exactly that on Aug. 27, this time without Myles.

“The Supreme Court voted 6-1 that we are aggrieved parties and have standing (in the Martin v. Secretary of State case that put Martin back on the ballot),” Bergeron said. He added the Supreme Court voted 4-3 to uphold the original Secretary of State decision.

And as one may expect, Martin isn’t sitting by in silence about the decision.

“It is a sad day for democracy when public servants who have clearly become more like self-servants, are rewarded for manipulating the process to avoid being accountable to the voting public,” Martin said in a press release, reaffirming past statements saying Bergeron and Myles only wanted him off the ballot to avoid campaigning for reelection. “Apparently the voters of the four counties (in the 23rd Circuit) couldn’t be trusted to make an informed decision about the qualities and character of their Circuit Judges. The decisions to appeal the 30th Circuit four separate times are pretty telling; the incumbents’ behavior of the past six years must not reflect very well.

“I am understandably disappointed in the decision, especially since this very Court (Michigan Supreme Court) had the opportunity to reverse the 30th Circuit in July, when the incumbents took their first appeal there. If they were going to reverse without argument, they could have done so without putting everyone to so much cost and effort; it would have left some time for other options.”

While the chance to run in November looks bleak for the challenger, Martin hasn’t counted it out.

He says in a press release he is filing a motion for reconsideration and he may run as a write-in candidate.

“I am not at this time sure if I will run as a write-in candidate; it would take hundreds of volunteers and be really tough to pull off, even with unpopular candidates and compelling issues,” Martin said in his press release.

The voters in Arenac, Iosco, Oscoda and Alcona counties will decide, at least for now, which judge candidate, Myles or Bergeron, will serve six years and who will serve eight years, depending on who receives more votes in the November election.

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