Judge denies last-minute attempt to strike Hansen's name from ballot
Published: November 2, 2012
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ST. CROIX - District Judge Curtis Gomez handed down an order Thursday evening denying a motion for a temporary restraining order filed by a group of residents who tried again to have Sen. Alicia Hansen removed from the ballot for the Nov. 6 General Election.
Senatorial candidate George Moore, Colleen Clarke and VI Action Group Inc. filed an Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order in U.S. District Court earlier this week.
The group and individuals, who previously had been represented by attorney Yohana Manning, also filed a motion removing him as counsel and filed the motion for the restraining order representing themselves.
The motion was based on the group's argument that Hansen is ineligible under Virgin Islands law and Section 6(b) of the Revised Organic Act of 1954, which states a candidate is ineligible to run for a seat in the Legislature if they were convicted of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude.
Clarke, president of the action group, said the restraining order stems from a lawsuit filed on Sept. 19 against Supervisor of Elections John Abramson Jr.; District and Joint Board of Elections Chairman Rupert W. Ross Jr.; the St. Croix District Board of Elections; and the Joint Boards of Elections. The lawsuit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief based on the argument that Hansen's three convictions for willful failure to file tax returns are crimes involving moral turpitude.
In denying the motion for the restraining order, Gomez said the petition was fraught with issues that give the court pause, including a lack of affidavits that show how the plaintiffs would experience irreparable harm in the absence of the temporary restraining order.
Gomez said that the court's concern is exacerbated by the request that it insert itself into the midst of an already highly contested election.
"Indeed, at least one court addressing a similar petition has noted that where the electorate has nominated a candidate in accordance with the elections code, an injunction preventing the electorate from exercising its will would be questionable," Gomez said.
Gomez said Hansen was duly eligible to run for office and was lawfully nominated and to undo that would work a substantial interference with the elections.
The complainants stated that the restraining order would prevent suffering in the community as a result of Hansen being illegally placed on the ballot and possibly winning a seat in the next Legislature.
"We will all suffer irreparable damage if she is allowed to run for elected office with her criminal history," Clarke said. "Her criminal history forever bars her from sitting as an elected official."
Moore said that, as a candidate for the Legislature, he also is harmed if Hansen is allowed to remain on the ballot, the residents would be illegally casting votes for her to take office and those votes could lawfully have been going to himself or other candidates who are rightfully on the ballot.
In his order, Gomez said removing Hansen's name is not the only remedy, available to the plaintiffs. The group can share Hansen's public record with the electorate, and it would be up to them to make an informed vote, Gomez said.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.