Dunning v. Reynolds
|Supreme Court of Alabama
|570 So.2d 668
|Etta E. DUNNING and Jan Judkins v. George REYNOLDS, as Probate Judge of Jefferson County, et al. 89-1758.
|10 October 1990
Cellie W. Miller of Barnes, Dunning & Miller, and Jerome Tucker, Birmingham, for appellants.
Edwin A. Strickland, Birmingham, for appellees George Reynolds and Polly Conradi.
Michael L. Edwards of Balch & Bingham, Birmingham, for appellee Jeff Germany.
Gregory H. Hawley of Maynard, Cooper, Frierson & Gale, and James L. North, Birmingham, for appellees John Baker and the Democratic Party of Alabama.
Terry McElheny, Birmingham, for appellee Sheriff Mel Bailey.
Richard F. Allen of Capell, Howard, Knabe & Cobbs, Montgomery, for amicus curiae Secretary of State Perry A. Hand.
Etta Dunning and Jan Judkins appeal from an order dismissing their complaint seeking a declaratory judgment and a writ of mandamus to have Jeff Germany's certificate of nomination revoked and his name removed from the general election ballot. The trial judge dismissed the complaint ex mero motu for lack of jurisdiction. We affirm.
The complaint avers that on May 23, 1990, petitioner Jan Judkins filed a formal complaint with the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee challenging the qualifications of Germany. The record fails to show affirmatively that petitioner exhausted her remedies before the State Democratic Executive Committee prior to filing the instant action. Therefore, we find no error in the trial court's order of dismissal. Ex parte Skidmore, 277 Ala. 221, 168 So.2d 483 (1964).
The sole question presented in this expedited appeal is whether this Court will enforce the penalty provisions of the Fair Campaign Practices Act of 1988, relating to disclosure of contributions made after a person becomes a candidate for election.
The specific legal question presented is whether a circuit court has jurisdiction of a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination of whether a political candidate for a local office could be certified as the nominee of his party when he had failed to comply with the provisions of Ala.Code 1975, § 17-22A-4, which require that "[w]ithin five days after [a] person becomes a candidate, such person shall file with the secretary of state or judge of probate ... a statement showing the name of not less than two nor more than five persons elected to serve as the principal campaign committee for such candidate." 1
The complaint here reads, as follows:
The trial court, apparently on its own motion, on August 2, 1990, entered the following order:
I think that the complaint is sufficient to state a claim under the provisions of the Rules of Civil Procedure, because I am of the opinion that the trial court had jurisdiction of the complaint, and could have enforced the sanctions of the Fair Campaign Practices Act, without first filing a proceeding before the democratic executive committee. To vest in a political party the absolute power to enforce the sanctions, in my opinion, fails to carry out legislative intent. It is my opinion that the legislature, in adopting the Fair Campaign Practices Act, and in providing serious penalties for its violation, including the filing of criminal proceedings against a person who violates it, never intended that a political party would be able to judge whether the Act, in fact, had been violated. In this case, the plaintiffs claim that the party has illegally certified Jeff Germany as the nominee of that party. That is a justiciable controversy which a circuit court clearly has the power to resolve. I do not believe that a circuit court is powerless to order the probate judge of a county not to place the name of a defaulting candidate on the November general election ballot. This Court, by divesting the trial court of jurisdiction, in my judgment, fails to follow prior precedents of this Court, which...
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Wood v. Booth
...to hear the Ropers' claims alleging FCPA violations that occurred before the primary and runoff elections. See also Dunning v. Reynolds, 570 So.2d 668 (Ala.1990); Ex parte Skidmore, 277 Ala. 221, 168 So.2d 483 988 So.2d at 478. Finally, we held in Roper that, because the Ropers had not purs......
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