On Wednesday March 9, 2005, The Maryland State Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Glenn L Ross v State Board of Elections, et al. Attorney Carroll Holzer stepped up at around 11:15 a.m. and the hearing lasted about an hour. Present from the Baltimore Green Party were Glenn Ross, Joan Floyd, Vince Tola, Mike Shea and Kathryn Parke. We were not aware of any press in attendance, although you would think a case that could remove a sitting City Council person from office and cause a new election in the 13th district would be of interest to the media. Also present was State Board of Elections (SBE) Administrator Linda Lamone.
The several lawyers for Paula Johnson Branch and the SBE did their best to prevent the simple, compelling merits of Glenn’s from being heard in the Court of Appeals. In addition to filing for a dismissal, they brought up a number of procedural points and distractions. Judge Wilner made particular note of the fact that the lawyers for the SBE stated several dates by which Glenn should have filed in order to preserve his right to sue, and admonished the defense to “pick a date and stick to it”. While the point seemed to be, bizarrely, that perhaps Glenn should have filed suit as early as June of 2003, this also served to highlight the tremendous number of finance reporting deadlines Ms. Branch and her campaign committees had missed.
They defense also noted that Glenn had not brought forth any evidence that information from Branch’s missing finance reports would have been helpful to his campaign, which is breathtakingly beside the point
One of the more entertaining arguments focused on the meaning of the phrase “on behalf of”, which the SBE has elected to interpret as meaning that a candidate can not be disqualified for the actions of the treasurers or chairpersons of a campaign finance committee, as they do not act “on behalf of” the candidate. This felt reminiscent of the Clinton “it depends what ‘is’ is” debacle.
Carroll Holzer declared afterwards that he felt the hearing had gone well. We await a ruling from the Court of Appeals.