Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Price v. Independent Party of CT-State Central

Supreme Court of Connecticut

September 29, 2016

JOHN R. PRICE ET AL.
v.
INDEPENDENT PARTY OF CT-STATE CENTRAL ET AL.

          Heard September 29, 2016

          Kyle R. Barrett and Joseph L. Rini, for the named plaintiff.

          Thomas P. Willcutts and Joseph L. Rini, for the plaintiff Michael Telesca.

          Bryan Thomas Cafferelli and Matthew Joseph Grimes, Jr., for the named defendant et al.

          Maura B. Murphy-Osborne, assistant attorney general, for the defendant Denise Merrill, secretary of the state.

          Benjamin S. Proto, Jr., for the defendant Daniel Carter.

          Michael Duff, self-represented.

          OPINION

          PALMER, J.

         This case involves a dispute between two factions of this state's Independent Party. The question before the court is whether it has original jurisdiction, pursuant to General Statutes § 9-323, [1] to remedy certain alleged violations of party procedure and election law by caucus officials of one of those factions, the named defendant, the Independent Party of CT-State Central, [2]pertaining to its nomination of the defendant Daniel Carter for the United States Senate. After an expedited hearing on September 29, 2016, the court concluded that the plaintiffs, John R. Price, the nominee for the United States Senate of the other faction, the Independent Party of Connecticut, and Michael Telesca, an elector and registered member of the Independent Party of Connecticut, had failed to establish that the court had jurisdiction to entertain their claims under § 9-323. The court therefore granted the motion to dismiss filed by the Independent Party of CT-State Central and Carter. This written opinion followed.

         I

         BACKGROUND

         The record reveals the following undisputed factual and procedural history. In Connecticut, the Independent Party is composed of two factions: the Independent Party of Connecticut, which is based in the city of Waterbury, and the Independent Party of CT-State Central, which is based in the city of Danbury. After proper notice, each faction hosted separate party caucuses in late August, 2016, following which two different nominees for the United States Senate were certified to the secretary of the state: the Independent Party of CT-State Central nominated Carter, and the Independent Party of Connecticut nominated Price.[3] On September 2, 2016, after receiving the competing nominations, the secretary of the state notified the two factions that, in accordance with existing policy and General Statutes § 9-250, [4] neither name would be placed on the ballot under the Independent Party line unless one nominee withdrew.

         Approximately two weeks later, on September 13, an action was filed in the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford, seeking to resolve the ongoing dispute over which faction properly controlled the Independent Party. Independent Party of CT-State Central v. Merrill, Superior Court, judicial district of Hartford, Docket No. HHD-CV-16-6071180-S (filed September 13, 2016). Following the filing of a motion to dismiss the claims relating specifically to the United States Senate race for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, both Carter and Price withdrew from the case. On September 23, the plaintiffs filed the present action in the Supreme Court, alleging various violations of party rules and election statutes during the caucus of the Independent Party of CT-State Central, [5] and seeking relief under § 9-323. On September 26, the plaintiffs sought a judgment declaring that the caucus of the Independent Party of CT-State Central was invalid. The plaintiff also filed a motion for a permanent injunction compelling, inter alia, Carter to withdraw his nomination and the defendant Denise Merrill, the secretary of the state, to place Price's name on the Independent Party line on the November, 2016 ballot.[6] Significantly, the plaintiffs did not allege any error on the part of the secretary of the state. On September 27, the secretary of the state filed a memorandum in opposition to the plaintiffs' motion for injunctive relief, and, on September 28, the Independent Party of CT-State Central and Carter filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction because (1) a ‘‘caucus'' is not an ‘‘ ‘election' '' for purposes of § 9-323; and (2) caucus administrators are not ‘‘ ‘election officials' '' under the statute, as the plaintiffs alleged. The secretary of the state likewise argued that the plaintiffs could not prevail because they were not ‘‘aggrieved by any ruling of the secretary [of the state], '' and, further, because their claims were ‘‘barred by the doctrine of laches.''

         Because § 9-323 provides that a case filed thereunder shall be resolved expeditiously by a justice of the Supreme Court, the court conducted a hearing on September 29, 2016. After the hearing, the court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss. The court will review the jurisdictional claims first.

         II

         JURISDICTION UNDER § 9-323

         For this court to exercise original jurisdiction under § 9-323, a candidate for the United States Senate or an elector must claim that he or she is ‘‘aggrieved by any ruling of any election official in connection with any election for . . . a senator in Congress . . . .''[7] Furthermore, upon bringing the matter before the court, the plaintiff must ‘‘set out the claimed errors of such election official . . . .'' General Statutes § 9-323; cf. Bortner v. Woodbridge, 250 Conn. 241, 259, 736 A.2d 104 (1999) (‘‘as a predicate for the ordering of a new election under [General Statutes] § 9-328, there must be either [1] an error or errors ‘in the rulings of' an election official, or [2] a ‘mistake in the count of the votes' '').

         Over the past forty years, this court has from time to time considered the meaning of the phrase ‘‘rulings of an election official'' as it is used in several closely related statutes. See, e.g., Caruso v. Bridgeport, 285 Conn. 618, 639, 941 A.2d 266 (2008) (construing General Statutes § 9-329a [a], relating to ‘‘ ‘ruling[s] of an election official in connection with any primary' ''); Bortner v. Woodbridge, supra, 250 Conn. 244 n.3 (construing § 9-328, concerning aggrievement by ‘‘ ‘any ruling of any election official in connection with an election for any municipal office or a primary for justice of the peace' ''); Scheyd v. Bezrucik, 205 Conn. 495, 498 n.1, 535 A.2d 793 (1987) (same); Wrinn v. Dunleavy, 186 Conn. 125, 127 n.2, 440 A.2d 261 (1982) (construing § 9-329a [a], relating to ‘‘ruling[s] of an election official in connection with any primary''). Most recently, in Wrotnowski v. Bysiewicz, 289 Conn. 522, 958 A.2d 709 (2008), Chief Justice Rogers observed that ‘‘[this court's] analysis of the phrase ‘ruling of any election official' in Scheyd, Bortner and Caruso is equally applicable to § 9-323.'' Id., 528.

         Accordingly, under § 9-323, ‘‘a ruling of an election official must involve some act or conduct by the official that (1) decides a question presented to the official, or (2) interprets some statute, regulation or other authoritative legal requirement, applicable to the election process.'' Bortner v.Woodbridge, supra, 250 Conn. 268; see also Wrotnowski v.Bysiewicz, supra, 289 Conn. 526-27. Such rulings ‘‘include conduct that comes within the scope of a mandatory statute governing the election process, even if the election official has not issued a ruling in any formal sense.'' (Emphasis omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Wrotnowski v.Bysiewicz, supra, 527, quoting Caruso v.Bridgeport, supra, 285 Conn. 647. Nonetheless, the court will not find a party aggrieved by a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.