Could Judge Jennifer Medley Sign the Recall Petition and Still Hear the Case?

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Political naysayers were all atwitter about announcement’s Wednesday, March 8, that Civil District Court Judge Jennifer Medley may have signed the recall petition and yet ruled on the lawsuit filed by leaders against Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and Registrar of Voters Dr. Sandra Wilson. sued for the right to review the signatures once they were delivered to Dr. Wilson. In court, claimed they would be looking for the signatures of elected officials and city leaders. Medley was the first name released from their search 

For almost two weeks now Dr. Wilson and her staff have been authenticating the signatures of approximately 50,000 registered voters in Orleans Parish who signed the petition. She has two more weeks (until March 22) to finish up the work. Since the Registrar has not released the name of anyone whose signature has been verified, it is possible that Medley is not among those who support the recall.  

Even if Medley’s signature is eventually authenticated, doesn’t she have the right as a registered voter in these free United States to sign the petition and still do her job as a judge? Are vicious rumors already circulating that Medley – who ruled that Orleans Parish was the proper venue for the case and signed the consent judgment – had not been objective, fair or impartial? was arguing that 30,000 inactive and/or deceased voters were artificially inflating the overall number of registered voters in Orleans Parish. They wanted the number of signatures needed on the recall petitions reduced accordingly and brought to court numerous examples to back up their numbers. Once the trial began, it did not take long for both sets of attorneys to agree to negotiate a settlement which reduced the number of signatures needed. That settlement was not Medley’s idea but she did sign off on it once the lawyers came to consensus.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell could sue to have the settlement thrown out. If there aren’t enough signatures verified, Cantrell would have no need. But if she did, the recall group should push for the entire 30,000 names to be removed.

Dr. Wilson has already been accused of leaving several of the boxes of petitions unprotected in her office. Earlier this week some residents who had requested absentee ballots in one precinct of House District 93 received the wrong ballot in the mail. The mailing snafu was probably just human error. Wilson is being assisted in the office by state workers and workers from other assessor offices. Those individuals could be to blame, but the buck stopped with Wilson who perhaps should have taken the time to review the mailing to check for accuracy.

A question has also arisen about what will happen on the March 22 deadline. State election law requires Wilson to provide a number of authenticated signatures only to Governor Edwards who, if the number of approved signatures meets the threshold, has 15 days to issue a proclamation calling for an election.  Will Wilson also release the number to the recall team, to the public or to Mayor Cantrell? Current state election law is silent on those matters. Like reviewing the signatures out of public view, Wilson will do what she wants. will surely challenge signatures which are rejected. 

The recall campaign is a sticky wicket all the way around. In the scheme of things, Judge Medley’s actions are just a blip on the radar screen with lots more blips to come. 

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