Case: Lowe v. Democratic Municipal Executive

4:09-cv-00035 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi

Filed Date: April 1, 2009

Closed Date: Aug. 21, 2009

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This is a case about an individual being denied certification as a candidate for the Democratic nomination of Mayor of the City of Leland, Mississippi by the Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi.  On March 23, 2009, a citizen of the City of Leland, Mississippi filed a Petition for Judicial Review of Decision of the Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi in the Circuit Court of Washington County, Mississippi. Plaintiff s…

This is a case about an individual being denied certification as a candidate for the Democratic nomination of Mayor of the City of Leland, Mississippi by the Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi. 

On March 23, 2009, a citizen of the City of Leland, Mississippi filed a Petition for Judicial Review of Decision of the Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi in the Circuit Court of Washington County, Mississippi. Plaintiff sued the Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi under Mississippi Code Section 23-15-961(4). Represented by private counsel, Plaintiff claimed that (1) he was a qualified elector of the City of Leland, Mississippi; (2) that he met all of the qualifications for the Office of Mayor in the City of Leland, Mississippi; (3) that he had never been convicted of a felony or any crime; (4) that he properly filed qualifying papers to enter the Leland Democratic primary election for the Office of Mayor; and (5) that the reasons for his certification being challenged were a violation of Mississippi law and election code. For these reasons, Plaintiff sought an immediate hearing on his petition; a determination that he was legally qualified to have his name placed on the ballot as a candidate for Mayor in the Democratic primary in the City of Leland, Mississippi; an order directing his name to be placed on the ballot; and an award of attorney’s fees and expenses.  

Defendant sought removal of the case to federal court on the basis that the petition asserted, inter alia, a violation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, thereby invoking federal jurisdiction pursuant to Title 28 USC Section 1331, 1343 and 1443. On April 1, 2009, the case was removed from the Circuit Court of Washington County, Mississippi to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi. That same day, Defendant filed its Answer to Plaintiff’s Petition. On April 5, 2009, Defendant filed its Amended Answer and Motion for Interim Relief Pursuant to Voting Rights Act of 1965 in which it sought interim relief authorizing it to enforce a new rule against Plaintiff that it planned to adopt on April 6, 2009. Specifically, Defendant planned to adopt a Rule Regarding Candidate Qualifications, that disqualifies a person for nomination as a candidate if they served as a member of a committee of a political party other than the Democratic Party, within the twelve-month period immediately preceding the municipal elections. Defendant stated that immediately after adoption of the rule, it would submit the aforementioned rule to the United States Justice Department for pre-clearance and that it planned to make its submission prior to the hearing in this matter. As Plaintiff was a member of the Republican Committee within the twelve-month period immediately preceding the municipal elections, Defendant requested that the Court, pending approval of the aforementioned submission, order interim relief authorizing the Defendant to enforce the new rule against plaintiff. 

On April 6, 2009, Defendant filed a Motion to Stay Proceedings Pending Preclearance Decision. In its Motion, Defendant stated that it adopted a Rule Regarding Candidate Qualification on April 6, 2009, that provided that any candidate who served as a member of a committee of a political party, other than the Democratic Party, within the twelve-month period immediately preceding municipal elections may not qualify for nomination as a candidate of the Democratic Party in municipal elections in Leland, Mississippi. That same day, Defendant submitted the rule to the United States Attorney General for preclearance. Defendant sought to stay this proceeding pending preclearance, as the municipal primary elections were scheduled for May 5, 2009, and Defendant claimed Plaintiff’s qualification as a candidate would constitute a fraud on prospective Democratic voters because he served as a member of the Leland, Mississippi Republican Executive Committee during this election cycle. 

On April 8, 2009, Plaintiff filed his Response to Defendant’s Motion to Stay Proceedings Pending Preclearance Decision. Plaintiff claimed (1) that he properly and timely filed his Qualifying Statement of Intent for a Candidate for Party Nomination for the Office of Mayor with the Leland City Clerk; and (2) that he paid the statutorily required $10.00 filing fee. Plaintiff argued that pursuant to the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §1973(c), no change in voting practices, standards, or procedures can be made effective until the change had been approved by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or, alternatively, precleared by the United States Attorney General. Plaintiff argued that even if the United States Attorney General precleared Defendant’s new rule, that rule could only be applied prospectively, after preclearance, and could have no legal effect on the qualifications for certification that existed as of the qualifying deadline for the Leland Democratic Primary.

On April 9, 2009, the Court convened a hearing on this matter pursuant to Rule 65 F.R.C.P. and/or the provisions of Miss. Code Ann. §23-15-961(4). Prior to the hearing, Defendants requested a ruling on its motion to stay the instant proceeding pending preclearance. The Court denied said motion. 

 The Court then conducted an evidentiary hearing allowing for live testimony, documentary evidence, and the parties stipulations regarding the same. It also heard oral arguments from the parties. The Court then recessed the proceeding to consider its ruling. 

 After due consideration, the Court rendered a bench opinion in favor of Plaintiff. Finding that it had jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter, the Court noted that the parties had stipulated that Plaintiff met the statutory requirements contained at Miss Code Ann. Section 23-15-309 to qualify as a candidate for the office of Mayor in the City of Leland, Mississippi Democratic primary election and that Plaintiff testified that he would support the party nominee in the upcoming election. For compliance with Miss Code Ann. Section 23-15-575, a prospective loyalty oath is the sole requirement, and under Miss. Code Ann. §23-15-309, the Court noted that party loyalty is not a recognized criterion for purposes of qualifying Plaintiff as a candidate for Mayor in the upcoming election. The Court also found that Miss. Code Ann. Section 23-15-575, as applied in this case, did not violate Defendant’s right to freedom of association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution or Article III, Sections 11 and 13 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890; and Miss. Code Ann. Section 23-15-309, as applied in this case, did not violate Defendant’s right to freedom of association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution or Article III, Sections 11 and 13 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890. The Court rejected Defendant’s claim that placement of Plaintiff’s name on the ballot as a Democratic candidate for Mayor was repugnant to the principles of free association recognized by the First and Fourteenth Amendments and held that the placement of Plaintiff’s name on the Democratic Party’s primary ballot as a statutorily qualified candidate did not place a significant burden on the Democratic Party’s “freedom to select a standard bearer who best represents the party’s ideologies and preferences” and it’s right to “broaden the base of public participation in and support for its activities.” The Court determined that the State’s interest in affording its citizens broad participation in the political process was sufficient to uphold the statutory procedure in question, and Defendant exceeded its statutory authority in refusing to qualify Plaintiff as a Democratic Party candidate for the office of Mayor. 

As to Defendant’s Rule Regarding Qualification of Candidates, the Court noted that it did not exist on either March 6, 2009, the date on which Plaintiff filed his qualifying papers or on March 17, 2009, the date on which Defendant voted to deny Plaintiff certification on grounds of party disloyalty. It had not been precleared, and the Court lacked the authority to grant interim relief based upon said rule. To that end, the Court found that the recently adopted Rule Regarding Qualification of Candidates was unenforceable and therefore did not create a cognizable conflict with state election law and defendant’s First and Fourteenth Amendment arguments stemming therefrom are not justiciable at this time. Based on the foregoing, the Court denied Defendant’s (1) Motion to Stay Proceedings Pending Preclearance, (2) Motion for Interim relief pursuant to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and (3) ore tenus Motion for Stay pending appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and granted Plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief and required Defendant to place Plaintiff’s name on the ballot for the May 5, 2009 Leland Municipal Democratic Primary Election. 

On April 21, 2009, Defendant appealed the Court’s decision and denial of its request for injunctive relief to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. On April 29, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied appellants motion for stay pending appeal. On August 14, 2009, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss its appeal because the election which gave rise to this litigation had taken place and therefore the appeal was moot. On August 17, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit dismissed the appeal. The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Stephanie Robin (11/28/2023)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5257257/parties/lowe-v-democratic-municipal-executive-committee-of-the-city-of-leland/


Judge(s)

Pepper, W. Allen (Mississippi)

Attorney for Plaintiff

Alexander, Andrew N. (Mississippi)

Attorney for Defendant

Brown, Howard R. (Mississippi)

Cochran, Jedidiah Lee (Mississippi)

Griffin, Charles E. (Mississippi)

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Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document
1

4:09-cv-00035

Notice of Removal

April 1, 2009

April 1, 2009

Other
2

4:09-cv-00035

Petition for Judicial Review of Decision of the Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi

Lowe v. Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of Leland, Mississippi

April 1, 2009

April 1, 2009

Complaint
3

4:09-cv-00035

Answer

April 1, 2009

April 1, 2009

Pleading / Motion / Brief
5

4:09-cv-00035

Amended Notice of Removal

Lowe V. Democratic Municipal Executive

April 5, 2009

April 5, 2009

Other
6

4:09-cv-00035

Amended Answer and Motion for Interim Relief Pursuant to Voting Rights Act of 1965

Lowe V. Democratic Municipal Executive

April 5, 2009

April 5, 2009

Pleading / Motion / Brief
7

4:09-cv-00035

Motion to Stay Proceedings Pending Preclearance Decision

Lowe v. Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of Leland, Mississippi

April 6, 2009

April 6, 2009

Pleading / Motion / Brief
10

4:09-cv-00035

The Constitution of the Democratic Party of the State of Mississippi

Lowe v. Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of Leland, Mississippi

April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

Other
9

4:09-cv-00035

Defendant's Trial Memorandum

Lowe v. Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of Leland, Mississippi

April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

Pleading / Motion / Brief
17

4:09-cv-00035

Petitioner's Response to Defendant's Motion to Stay Proceedings Pending Preclearance Decision

Lowe v. Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of Leland, Mississippi

April 8, 2009

April 8, 2009

Pleading / Motion / Brief
18

4:09-cv-00035

Defendant's Supplemental Memorandum

Lowe v. Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of Leland, Mississippi

April 8, 2009

April 8, 2009

Pleading / Motion / Brief

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5257257/lowe-v-democratic-municipal-executive-committee-of-the-city-of-leland/

Last updated March 17, 2024, 3 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

NOTICE OF REMOVAL by Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi from Circuit Court of Washington County, Mississippi, case number 2009-0063CI. ( Filing fee $ 350 receipt number 91475), filed by Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet) (jtm) (Entered: 04/02/2009)

1 Civil Cover Sheet

View on RECAP

April 1, 2009

April 1, 2009

Clearinghouse

Notice of Assignment

April 1, 2009

April 1, 2009

PACER
2

STATE COURT COMPLAINT against Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi, filed by James W. Lowe. (jtm) (Entered: 04/02/2009)

April 1, 2009

April 1, 2009

Clearinghouse

NOTICE OF ASSIGNMENT. Case assigned to Judge W. Allen Pepper and Magistrate Judge David A. Sanders. (jtm)

April 1, 2009

April 1, 2009

PACER
3

ANSWER to State Court Complaint by Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi. (jtm) (Entered: 04/02/2009)

April 1, 2009

April 1, 2009

Clearinghouse
4

NOTICE of Hearing on Petition for Review set for THURSDAY, 4/9/2009 10:00 AM in Greenville Courtroom 1 before W. Allen Pepper. (swf)

April 2, 2009

April 2, 2009

PACER
5

AMENDED NOTICE OF REMOVAL by Charles E. Griffin on behalf of Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi 1 Notice of Removal (Griffin, Charles).

April 5, 2009

April 5, 2009

Clearinghouse
6

AMENDED ANSWER to 2 Complaint and Motion for Interim Relief by Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi. (Griffin, Charles)

April 5, 2009

April 5, 2009

Clearinghouse
7

MOTION to Stay Proceedings Pending Preclearance Decision by Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit) (Griffin, Charles)

1 Exhibit

View on RECAP

April 6, 2009

April 6, 2009

Clearinghouse
8

BRIEF Prehearing Brief by Petitioner James W. Lowe. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Exhibit 2) (Alexander, Andrew)

April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

PACER
9

MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT Defendant's Trial Memorandum. (Griffin, Charles)

April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

Clearinghouse
10

EXHIBIT re 9 Memorandum in Support Ex.A,. (Griffin, Charles)

April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

Clearinghouse
11

EXHIBIT re 9 Memorandum in Support Ex. B. (Griffin, Charles)

April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

PACER
12

EXHIBIT re 9 Memorandum in Support Ex. C. (Griffin, Charles)

April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

PACER
13

EXHIBIT re 9 Memorandum in Support Ex. D. (Griffin, Charles)

April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

PACER
14

EXHIBIT re 9 Memorandum in Support Ex. E. (Griffin, Charles)

April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

PACER
15

EXHIBIT re 9 Memorandum in Support Ex. F. (Griffin, Charles)

April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

PACER
16

Minute Entry for proceedings held before W. Allen Pepper: Telephone Conference held on 4/8/2009. (swf)

April 8, 2009

April 8, 2009

PACER
17

RESPONSE in Opposition re 7 MOTION to Stay Proceedings Pending Preclearance Decision filed by James W. Lowe. (Alexander, Andrew)

April 8, 2009

April 8, 2009

Clearinghouse
18

MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT Defendant's Supplemental Memorandum. (Griffin, Charles)

April 8, 2009

April 8, 2009

Clearinghouse
19

Minute Entry for proceedings held before W. Allen Pepper: Evidentiary Hearing held on 4/9/2009. (Court Reporter Susan Alford.) (swf)

April 9, 2009

April 9, 2009

PACER

Case Assigned/Reassigned

April 9, 2009

April 9, 2009

PACER
20

Witness List. (swf)

April 9, 2009

April 9, 2009

PACER
21

Exhibit List. (swf)

April 9, 2009

April 9, 2009

PACER

Case Reassigned to Jerry A. Davis. David A. Sanders no longer assigned to the case. (jtm)

April 9, 2009

April 9, 2009

PACER
22

Minute Entry for courtroom proceedings delivering ruling on earlier hearing held on April 9, 2009. (Court Reporter Susan Alford.) (swf)

April 9, 2009

April 9, 2009

PACER
23

Transcript of Ruling On Petition for Judicial Review held 4/9/09,Greenville before Judge W. Allen Pepper, Jr. Court Reporter/Transcriber Susan L. Alford, Telephone number 662-801-3366. NOTICE RE REDACTION OF TRANSCRIPTS: The parties have seven (7) days to file with the Court a Notice of Intent to Request Redaction of this transcript. If no such Notice is filed, the transcript will be made remotely electronically available to the public without redaction after 90 calendar days. The Policy is located on our website at www.msnd.uscourts.gov. Transcript may be viewed at the court public terminal or purchased through the Court Reporter/Transcriber before the deadline for Release of Transcript Restriction. After that date it may be obtained through PACER. Redaction Request due 5/1/2009. Redacted Transcript Deadline set for 5/11/2009. Release of Transcript Restriction set for 7/9/2009. (tab, USDC)

April 13, 2009

April 13, 2009

PACER
24

Transcript of Hearing on Petition For Judicial Review held 4/9/09, Greenville before Judge W. Allen Pepper, Jr. Court Reporter/Transcriber Susan L. Alford, Telephone number 662-801-3366. NOTICE RE REDACTION OF TRANSCRIPTS: The parties have seven (7) days to file with the Court a Notice of Intent to Request Redaction of this transcript. If no such Notice is filed, the transcript will be made remotely electronically available to the public without redaction after 90 calendar days. The Policy is located on our website at www.msnd.uscourts.gov. Transcript may be viewed at the court public terminal or purchased through the Court Reporter/Transcriber before the deadline for Release of Transcript Restriction. After that date it may be obtained through PACER. Redaction Request due 5/4/2009. Redacted Transcript Deadline set for 5/12/2009. Release of Transcript Restriction set for 7/10/2009. (tab, USDC)

April 14, 2009

April 14, 2009

PACER
25

JUDGMENT in favor of James W. Lowe against Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi. CASE CLOSED. Signed by W. Allen Pepper on 4/16/2009. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1)(pbs, USDC)

April 16, 2009

April 16, 2009

Clearinghouse
26

NOTICE OF APPEAL by Charles E. Griffin on behalf of Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi. Filing fee $ 455, receipt number 05370000000000501463. Appeal Record due by 5/6/2009. (Griffin, Charles)

April 21, 2009

April 21, 2009

Clearinghouse
27

MOTION to Alter Judgment Pursuant to Rule 62(c) FRCP by Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi. (Griffin, Charles)

April 23, 2009

April 23, 2009

Clearinghouse
28

Amended MOTION to Alter Judgment 27 Motion to Alter Judgment Pursuant to Rule 62(c) by Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi. (Griffin, Charles).

April 24, 2009

April 24, 2009

Clearinghouse
29

ORDER of USCA: that appellant's motion for stay pending appeal is denied as to 26 Notice of Appeal filed by Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi (tab, USDC)

April 29, 2009

April 29, 2009

Clearinghouse
30

NOTICE by Charles E. Griffin on behalf of Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi re 28 Amended MOTION to Alter Judgment Pursuant to Rule 62(c) Notice of Abandonment of Amended Motion to Modify Injunction (Griffin, Charles)

May 21, 2009

May 21, 2009

PACER

USCA Case Number

May 26, 2009

May 26, 2009

PACER

USCA Case Number 09-60285 for 26 Notice of Appeal filed by Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi. (tab, USDC)

May 26, 2009

May 26, 2009

PACER

Notice of Certification of Record on Appeal

July 20, 2009

July 20, 2009

PACER

Notice of Certification of Record on Appeal

July 20, 2009

July 20, 2009

PACER

Notice of Certification of Electronic Record on Appeal (tab, USDC)

July 20, 2009

July 20, 2009

PACER

Notice of Certification of Electronic Record on Appeal (tab, USDC)

July 20, 2009

July 20, 2009

PACER
31

USCA JUDGMENT: APPEAL DISMISSED PURSUANT TO APPELLANT'S MOTION as to 26 Notice of Appeal filed by Democratic Municipal Executive Committee of the City of Leland, Mississippi (Attachments: # 1 Cover Letter) (jtm) (Entered: 08/24/2009)

2 Cover Letter

View on PACER

Aug. 21, 2009

Aug. 21, 2009

RECAP

Case Details

State / Territory: Mississippi

Case Type(s):

Election/Voting Rights

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 1, 2009

Closing Date: Aug. 21, 2009

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

A citizen of the City of Leland, Mississippi who sought to enter the Leland Democratic Primary Election for the Office of Mayor but was denied his name on the ballot.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

City of Leland, Mississippi (Leland, Washington), City

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Available Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Non-settlement Outcome

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Content of Injunction:

Voting Process Changes

Issues

Voting:

Candidate qualifications

Challenges to at-large/multimember district/election

Election administration