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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sultana Asks Judge Dally, "Just Give Me a Chance."

Sultana (left) with Bethlehem City Council member Olga Negron
Though Ryan Hall is the named Objector to Taiba Sultana's nomination petition on Easton City Council, there's no doubt that the driving force behind the complaint is her opponent, Sandra Vulcano. In fact, Vulcano sat in court yesterday morning smiling like a cat who just ate the canary. She was waiting to see Sultana tossed off the ballot.  Whether that happens is now up to Judge Craig Dally, who is expected to rule on this matter on Tuesday.

Prominent Bethlehem Attorney Vic Scomillio represented Hall (Vulcano) at yesterday's hearing. His objection (you can read it here) is quite simple. Sultana fails to meet the one-year residency requirement in Easton's Home Rule Charter. It states that "[o]nly those who are and have been for at least one (1) year registered voters of the City shall be eligible to hold the office of Council Member or Mayor."  Since Sultana only registered to vote on February 23 of this year, she's ineligible.

Sultana, representing herself, responded the "state constitution is bigger than city rules" and only imposes a 90-day residency requirement. I am unable to find such a requirement. I did see a one year requirement for state senators (Art. II, Section 5) and judges (Art V, Section 12 ), as well as a seven year residency requirement for Governor and Attorney General (Art V, Section 12). So it seems her reliance on the state constitution is misplaced

But if you look more closely at the Charter, you can argue that she is eligible to run and even get elected. A strict reading of the Charter provides only that she is unable to hold the office of City Council until she establishes one year of residency. So in effect, he position would be vacant for one month and 23 days. On February 23, she could be sworn into office. Voters going to the polls will know this, and they could decide themselves whether to elect someone who is unable to serve until February 23. If she wins, then someone seeking to remove her could file a removal action, which is called a quo warranto.

Any objection to Sultana's nomination petition must be based on whether the Elections Code or the State Ethics Act is violated, not Easton's Home Rule Charter. An example of what I mean can be found in a Commonwealth Court case decided in 2009 called In re May. In that matter, a judge candidate was challenged for engaging in inappropriate political activity in violation of the Rules of Judicial Conduct. But the objection was dismissed. "[N]either the Election Code nor the Ethics Act require candidates for judicial office to conform to the Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct in order to be placed on an election ballot."

Courts must liberally construe the Election Code to protect a candidate's right to run for public office as well as a voter's right to elect a candidate of his or her choice. Nothing in Easton's Home Rule Charter prevents Sultana from running for the Office. And nothing in the Elections Code incorporates the provisions of local home rule charters. As Sultana herself said, "This restriction of [the] City of Easton will not only victimize me and my more than 200 supporters of [the] south side of Easton, but also those voters who want to express their opinion and freedom of choice in the coming election."

This challenge is premature.

Another argument that Sultana can make is that the challenge to her fails to conform with the specificity required by the state supreme court.
(1) the petition to set aside must be filed within seven (7) days after the last day for filing the challenged nomination petition or paper; (2) the petition must specifically set forth the objections; (3) the petition must contain a prayer that the nomination petition or paper be set aside; and (4) the petition must be served upon the officer or board with whom the nomination petition or paper was filed.
In this case, Sultana, a nonlawyer, was served with on March 13th with a document entitled "Objection to Nomination Petition of Terrence Miller." This did nothing but mislead her.

"Just give me chance," Sultana implored Judge Dally on Thursday. We'll find out Tuesday whether a grass roots candidate can overcome an entrenched member of Council using high-powered legal maneuvers to deprive the people of Easton of a choice they deserve.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

"quo warranto"

that brings back memories.

Billy Givens.

good times, good times...

(yeah, off topic but forgive me for remembering a giant)

Anonymous said...

Then Scomilio failed royally in his cut and paste filing. I would love to see him rely on the same arguments as his target, "oh please, just give me a chance." The notice to challenge appears to be flawed, according to your blog.

Anonymous said...

Northampton County Constable Ryan Hall? Interesting!

Anonymous said...

One, you are really making a leap of Faith blaming Ms. Vulcano. Is she the one pursuing this? Do you have proof? She should sue you if you do not.

Second, the law is the law. Your idea od the "intent" means nothing. You hate Vulcano so you are playing all kinds of legal games to get this woman on the ballot. Fortunately, you are not in charge, you blew that opportunity. The law is the law. It not based on your petty hatred and emotional temper tantrums.

Bernie O'Hare said...

She is clearly behind it. She was in the courtroom with a big smile, was sitting with the challengers in the hallway before the case got started, laughing up a storm. She is 100% behind this. Please have her sue me. I'd love to depose her and get all her records, including how much she paid Scomillio. Please. And don't try deleting. I will ask for records from her ISP. Let all of South Easton see her for what she is.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Second, the law is the law."

I completely agree and under the law, she falls on her face. Under the law, challenges can be made for violations of the Election Code or the State Ethics Act. Under the law, there is no provision for a challenge based on a violation of Easton's HRC. She may not be able to serve, but can sure as hell run. That's the law.

Anonymous said...

Vulcano is Hall's mother in law so.....

Bernie O'Hare said...

Oops.

Anonymous said...

Lol....I mean can it get any more obvious?

Anonymous said...

Do judges just dole out personal information for the asking? I question whether a civil suit between individuals would rise to the level of disclosing such information. Much of this is supposition. It seems like a dangerous and chilling path that is no less dangerous than other paths.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The answer to your question is Yes. Parties in civil litigation are entitled to all kinds of information during discovery. If they refuse to produce it, they can be sanctioned. Here's an example.

https://web.northamptoncounty.org/CountySuite.CivilPublic/(S(muo10bzk3azos411vcsrdicl))/Handlers/DocumentHandler.ashx?vid=1872

george schaller said...

Bernie, Morning last nights post was not a vulger statment, it was about a fine young lady that seems to want to stand up for the populus she would perspectively serve. The people aposing her are the ones that are in service to do diservice as is the norm with in the triboro area with the Relocation process as a hostel take over tactik employed! This is a nue design that states progess as its agenda. I don't see it her or there just more denigration as the populus as a whole.
The youg have not been tainted that there desisions can be bought by the transgretionalists perpatrating to have the publics best intrests as there votes. allow some do have the publics best intrests as there intrests too!
REpublicaN REDD
HUMANIST BY DESIGN

Anonymous said...

All these entrenched pols from both parties using the system to thwart competition and suppress voters. Now they are even dissaudi8ng people form signing petitions for fear of some type of witch hunt. They should all resign or be voted out!

quellwater@gmail.com said...

it is time for new blood to enter into a Position as eastons council. there are too many relatives, inlands, etc present. i welcome mrs taiba sultana into my 3rd district as a homeowner , i am sure, that she will do a fine job for all southside residents.