Conner OKed to run

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 4, 2008

VIDALIA — When it comes to election law, the devil is in the details, and it was one specific detail that compelled Judge Kathy Johnson to throw out Ferriday Mayor Gene Allen’s challenge to Justin Conner’s candidacy Thursday.

Though other evidence was presented in the trial, it was a single omission that resulted in the judgement being given in Conner’s favor.

Johnson tossed the suit after Conner’s attorney William Whatley, of Marksville, made a motion for the judge to grant them a judgment because during the course of the trial Allen had not proven he is a registered elector in Concordia Parish.

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“Only a registered elector can challenge the candidacy of someone running,” Whatley said. “We have no proof whatsoever, no testimony that he (Allen) is a registered elector of the area.”

Yarbrough asked Johnson to take judicial notice that Allen is the currently elected mayor of Ferriday, and it would have been established that he is a registered elector of the area in his notice of candidacy.

Johnson could not consider that as evidence because it was not presented to her before the case was rested.

“I know Allen is mayor,” Whatley said. “He could have moved to another place, or he could have not been an elector when he qualified but no one challenged him.”

Excusing herself to research the issue, Johnson returned to the bench shortly.

Citing the 2000 case Booth v. Jefferson, Johnson said she was going to grant Whatley’s motion because there was “no testimony about the matter” in the court record.

Allen challenged Conner’s candidacy for mayor because he filed his qualifying paperwork through a proxy instead of in person.

The Secretary of State’s office allows a person to file their qualifying papers through an agent if they file the proper affidavits and are incapable of filing the paperwork in person. Conner was out of town at the time of qualifying.

Allen said Thursday he plans to appeal the decision.