Peppered by a number of questions, lawyers appeared before the Connecticut Supreme Court Thursday morning to argue the pros and cons of Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis’ order for a third Democratic primary in the City Council’s 133rd District citing absentee ballot irregularities. The state’s highest court is hearing the case on an expedited basis following the city’s appeal.
Attorney Pete Finch, arguing on behalf of former State Rep. Bob Keeley who brought the complaint before Bellis after he finished behind party-endorsed Michael DeFilippo and incumbent Jeanette Herron, kicked off the presentation to the Supremes. Finch, son of former Mayor Bill Finch, was followed by Deputy City Attorney John Bohannon and attorney James Healy, representing various defendants. The parties had approximately 30 minutes each to address statutory interpretation based on Bellis’ decision. The justices also jumped in with a number of pointed questions for both sides, challenging their assertions on legal interpretation, which is typical for the state’s highest court.
Following the arguments the justices adjourned to a conference for about 45 minutes before telling the legal parties they expect to issue a decision in the near future.
The justices are considering these four questions:
Does Connecticut General Statutes prohibit any person other than the elector from arranging for a designee to return an elector’s absentee ballot to the Town Clerk?
Did the trial court err in rejecting twelve absentee ballots that were stamped but not postmarked on the ground that they were not “mailed” pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes?
Did the trial court err in deciding that the administration of the supervised absentee balloting at Northbridge Health Care Center did not meet the minimum standards required by law?
Did the trial court err in applying the burden of proof, and in rejecting votes validly cast by electors, thereby undermining the trial court’s conclusion that there were substantial statutory violations that left the reliability of the election seriously in doubt?
More on the courtroom scene from CT Post reporter Dan Tepfer here.