Lipsey loses appeal

Published 1:52 pm Thursday, November 29, 2007

VIDALIA — An appeals court denied the appeal filed by Concordia Parish sheriff candidate Glenn Lipsey Thursday.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeal reaffirmed Judge Sharon Marchman’s earlier ruling to throw out Lipsey’s election contest for the Oct. 20 primary election.

A three-judge panel made up of Chief Justice Ulysses G. Thibodeaux and Justices Billy Ezell and James T. Genovese heard arguments from both sides of the case Wednesday, and the justices released their ruling Thursday afternoon.

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Lipsey’s attorney Andy Magoun said they have 48 hours to appeal the decision.

“It’s a long shot for the Supreme Court to grant a writ application to review the case,” Magoun said. “I’d say it’s less than a 10 percent chance they will grant a writ to hear it.”

At this point, appealing the decision is about principle, but current election law is geared toward preserving an election, Magoun said.

“We’re still hung up that a trial judge and a three-judge panel failed to address voter fraud, but a plain reading of the court minutes says people had to vote in Concordia Parish to hang onto their jobs,” he said. “Why are judges so quick to ignore what we see as obvious?”

Sheriff Randy Maxwell said in a statement he was happy with the court’s ruling.

“I’m glad for the people of this parish that this appears to be over,” he said. “Surely this has been the most scrutinized election ever held in our parish and perhaps in the state.”

“I’d like to point out that every allegation that Mr. Lipsey made in his petition, with the exception of the Homestead Exemption issue — which many people were not aware of — were proven to be false and baseless,” Maxwell said. “They had four days in court and could not prove any of them, except for the eight that were thrown out.”

Voting irregularities are almost guaranteed in any election, Maxwell said.

“In any election, anywhere in the country, there will be some sort of so-called irregularity because it’s human beings who are voting,” he said. “There will always be some sort of human error.”

It is now time for the parish to look to the future, Maxwell said.

“Now it’s time for all of this to be over and move this parish forward — and that’s just what we plan to do in the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office,” he said.

Marchman threw out the contest after the initial trial because, though during the course of the trial nine votes were found to be improperly cast, the difference was not enough to change the outcome of the election.

She also threw out many of the contested votes because she said Lipsey did not perform due diligence by investigating and challenging the votes prior to the election.

Marchman also disallowed the Lipsey legal team from adding names to their list of challenged votes.

Writing the opinion for the appellate court, Thibodeaux reaffirmed Marchman’s ruling.

“The only exception to this (adding challenged votes during trial) is for objections to voters who should have been removed from the voter registration rolls due to death.

“The burden is on the candidate to challenge possibly unqualified voters prior to votes being cast if due diligence would have allowed for the discovery of this information.”

The appellate court ruled that several votes cast by those who claim homestead exemption in Mississippi were valid because Louisiana law “provides the qualifications for registering to vote in this state only and in doing so sets forth a limitation regarding homestead exemptions claimed in Louisiana only.”

The court ordered Lipsey to pay all associated court costs.