Jones v. Secretary of State, 090820 MESC, Cum-20-227

Docket Nº:Cum-20-227
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM
Party Name:DAVID A. JONES et al. v. SECRETARY OF STATE et al.
Attorney:James G. Monteleone, Esq. (orally), and Matthew J. Saldana, Esq., Bernstein Shur, Portland, for appellants The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting et al. Phyllis Gardiner, Esq. (orally), Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellant Secretary of State Patrick N. Strawbridge, Esq. (orally)...
Judge Panel:Panel: MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HUMPHREY, and HORTON, JJ.
Case Date:September 08, 2020
Court:Supreme Judicial Court of Maine
 
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2020 ME 111

DAVID A. JONES et al.

v.

SECRETARY OF STATE et al.

No. Cum-20-227

Supreme Court of Maine

September 8, 2020

Argued: September 3, 2020

James G. Monteleone, Esq. (orally), and Matthew J. Saldana, Esq., Bernstein Shur, Portland, for appellants The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting et al.

Phyllis Gardiner, Esq. (orally), Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellant Secretary of State

Patrick N. Strawbridge, Esq. (orally), Consovoy McCarthy PLLC, Boston, Massachusetts, for appellees David A. Jones, et al.

Panel: MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HUMPHREY, and HORTON, JJ.

PER CURIAM

[¶1] On August 24, 2020, the Superior Court (Cumberland County, McKeon, J.) entered a judgment on a petition for judicial review brought by David A. Jones and others (collectively, "Jones") to challenge a decision of the Secretary of State. See 5 M.R.S. § 11001 (2020); 21-A M.R.S. § 905(2) (2020); M.R. Civ. P. 80C. The court vacated the Secretary of State's determination that insufficient signatures had been collected to place on the November 2020 ballot a people's veto of An Act to Implement Ranked-choice Voting for Presidential Primary and General Elections in Maine, P.L. 2019, ch. 539.

[¶2] Both the Secretary of State and intervenors The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting and three individuals (collectively, "Committee") have moved to stay the execution of the Superior Court's judgment pending their appeals to us from that judgment. The Committee argues that a stay of the court's judgment is automatically in place pursuant to Rule 62(e) of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure, and argues alternatively that, if there is no automatic stay, we should enter an order staying the execution of the Superior Court's judgment because "the Superior Court decision erroneously and inadvertently included at least 162 signatures that the Secretary's tally of signature[] totals failed to account." The Secretary of State argues only that we should enter an injunction in the form of a stay pursuant to Rule 62(g) in order to "preserve the status quo or the effectiveness of the judgment subsequently to be entered."1Jones has filed an opposition to both motions, asserting that judgments entered by the Superior Court on petitions for judicial review of final agency action are not subject to the automatic stay pending appeal but rather are subject only to the stay provisions of 5 M.R.S. § 11004 (2020), and that we should not order a stay as a form of injunctive relief.

[¶3] Because we conclude that execution of the judgment is automatically stayed upon appeal, we do not reach the arguments regarding injunctive relief. We dismiss both motions to stay as moot.

[¶4] Rule 62 governs the stay upon appeal of proceedings in Maine courts. It provides, in pertinent part,

(e) Stay Upon Appeal. Except as provided in subdivisions (c) and (d) of this rule, the taking of an appeal from a judgment shall operate as a stay of execution upon the judgment during the pendency of the appeal, and no supersedeas bond or other security shall be required as a condition of such stay.

M.R. Civ. P. 62.2 Thus, pursuant to Rule 62(e), the docketing of an appeal will ordinarily operate as a stay of a trial court's order, including with respect to an administrative appeal. See Doggettv. Town of Gouldsboro, 2002 ME 175, ¶ 6, 812 A.2d 256 (holding that an appeal to us from a municipal decision pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 80B "suspend[ed] the trial court's authority over the matter and stay[ed] the effect" of its remand to a municipality); cf. Hawkes Television, Inc. v. Me. Bureau of Consumer Credit Prot, 462 A.2d 1167, 1169 (Me. 1983) (dissolving an injunction that the Superior Court issued in a Rule 80B case while the matter was automatically stayed pending appeal to us).

[¶5] Jones has not filed a motion for immediate execution of the judgment in the Superior Court.3 See M.R. Civ. P. 62(c). Jones urges us to conclude, however, that the Superior Court, in vacating the Secretary of State's decision, entered an order "granting, dissolving, or denying an injunction"-a decision that is not subject to the automatic stay pending appeal. M.R. Civ. P. 62(d), (e).4 Jones argues that M.R. Civ. P. 81(c) requires us to treat the Superior Court's order as an injunction. Rule 81(c) does not, however, provide that all administrative appeals are to be construed as seeking injunctions; rather it establishes new procedural mechanisms to replace outmoded writs:

Scire Facias and Certain Extraordinary Writs Abolished. The writs of scire facias, mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, and quo warranto are abolished. Review of any action or failure or refusal to act by a governmental agency, including any department, board, commission, or officer, shall be in accordance with procedure prescribed by Rule 80B. Any other relief heretofore available by any of such writs may be obtained by appropriate action or motion under the practice prescribed by these rules. In...

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