Tuesday, December 28, 2010

U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline Dismisses Joe Miller's Challenge, Alaska To Dun Miller Nearly $16,000 In Legal Fees; Time To Pull The Plug

On December 28th, 2010, we may have finally heard the death rattle of Joe Miller's U.S. Senate campaign. In a 14-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline dismissed Miller's federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the November 2nd election. Judge Beistline said Miller wasn't raising any federal issues that he needed to resolve, and so he would not second guess the Alaska Supreme Court, which already had ruled against Miller. The judge's ruling also permits the Alaska Division of Elections to certify Lisa Murkowski's victory; Elections Director Gail Fenumiai immediately signed the paperwork, declaring Murkowski the winner. On Thursday December 30th, Governor Sean Parnell is expected to sign the election certification, which will then be flown to Washington to be delivered to the Secretary of the Senate in advance of the January 3rd deadline necessary to prevent any loss of seniority by Murkowski.

For the record, the final vote count in the election was 101,091 for Murkowski to 90,839 for Miller.

Judge Beistline did throw Miller a bone of sorts, noting that the Alaska statute regarding write-in votes is somewhat unclear. "What we have before us is a poorly drafted state statute. Wisdom would suggest that the Alaska Legislature act to clarify it to avoid similar disputes in the future," Beistline wrote. But Beistline imposed no order upon the state to take corrective action.

-- Read the 14-page court decision HERE. AP news video embedded below:

To add insult to injury, the state of Alaska plans to seek reimbursement of some of its legal fees from litigation surrounding the U.S. Senate race from Joe Miller. The Department of Law says its attorney fees related to Miller's challenge in state Superior Court totaled $79,722.50. The department says it is allowed to recover 20 percent of the fees and is seeking $15,957.55, even though Judge Beistline ruled that Miller's technical arguments were not frivolous.

But Joe Miller hasn't quit yet. Miller said he was disappointed with the federal court's ruling and believes his challenge is on solid constitutional ground. "Specifically, should the courts be required to follow the legislature's standard for the selection of U.S. Senators or create their own? My legal team believes that the clear language of the Election Clause, as well as precedent, support our claims...Thus, we are evaluating the ruling and determining what our next step should be," Miller said. Miller consistently argued that Alaska law does not allow the counting of misspelled names on write-in ballots. But the Division of Elections set guidelines before counting began that allowed for a voter's intent to be considered when determining whether to count a ballot for a write-in candidate.

Miller's only two remaining legal stops would be the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the Murkowski team is twittering with delight. "It means that I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that next week Alaska will have two senators in the United States Senate and there would not be any lapse that could have happened had certification been held up very much longer. This signals clearly that this election is done and Alaskans are ready to move on and I'm ready to get to work", said Senator Murkowski.

It was a determined, dogged effort by Joe Miller to get justice, an effort which will not quickly be forgotten. But, as Kenny Rogers says, "Ya gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run". It's time for Joe Miller to fold 'em and walk away. His chances of a favorable ruling at the Ninth Circuit are even less promising, and with Sotomayor and Kagan on the U.S. Supreme Court, you can kiss that off. In addition, public opinion has turned so much against him here that it will be quite a while before he can effectively run for office again. It's time to cut his losses.

1 comment:

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    Warren Lee, M.D. President of the Hong Kong Nutrition Association 1995