Find the Pattern: Court Dismisses Election Case on Jurisdictional Grounds in Nevada

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Citing Article 1, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution, the 30-year-old Laxalt v. Cannon opinion from the Nevada Supreme Court and NRS 293.407, Maddox said, "This court does not have jurisdiction to hear this case." All three of those state that only the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives can decide contested elections involving their membership. Maddox heard testimony in the case primarily to put all Angle's claims in the record but said even if he had jurisdiction over the issue, they failed to prove those allegations. Malfeasance, he said "is a wrongful or unlawful act according to Black's Law Dictionary. It is not an omission of an act. It is the commission of an act." [ED. Note: As in Busby/Bilbray, neither candidate was a member of Congress.]

Angle loses appeal for new election
Judge says law bars him from ruling on congressional races
and that a case for malfeasance was not made

By Geoff Dornan / Nevada Appeal / September 2, 2006
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Sharron Angle and her attorney Joel Hansen talk during a lunch break in Carson District Judge Bill Maddox's courtroom on Friday morning. Angle lost her call for a new election after losing the GOP nomination for Nevada's second congressional district by 422 votes to Dean Heller.

Sharron Angle on Friday lost her call for a new election. Immediately after the ruling, she said there will be no appeal and she will endorse and work for Dean Heller in his race for Nevada's second congressional district.

After a day-long hearing into allegations of malfeasance by Washoe Voter Registrar Dan Burk and his staff, Carson District Judge Bill Maddox ruled not only do the U.S. Constitution and Nevada law bar him from deciding a challenge of any race for the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives but that Angle's lawyer Joel Hansen failed to prove the errors in Washoe County were numerous and serious enough to warrant nullifying the vote.

He also ordered Angle's side to pay Heller's legal costs in defending the case.

Citing Article 1, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution, the 30-year-old Laxalt v. Cannon opinion from the Nevada Supreme Court and NRS 293.407, Maddox said, "This court does not have jurisdiction to hear this case."

All three of those state that only the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives can decide contested elections involving their membership.

Maddox heard testimony in the case primarily to put all Angle's claims in the record but said even if he had jurisdiction over the issue, they failed to prove those allegations.

Malfeasance, he said "is a wrongful or unlawful act according to Black's Law Dictionary. It is not an omission of an act. It is the commission of an act."

The errors in Washoe County's Aug. 15 primary, he said, clearly fail to meet that standard. Hansen's witnesses testified some polling places opened late, that there were delays in voting and problems with some of the machines. But only one person said she was unable to vote because of the problems. And Heller's lawyer, Jason Woodbury, said that was her decision not to wait 20 minutes until the voting machine was ready and not to return to the polling place later in the day, which is provided for by Nevada law.

Woodbury also argued Nevada law doesn't give Maddox the option of ordering a new election - only of naming some one else the victor or vacating the election and allowing the GOP central committee to select the nominee.

Maddox said for him to do that, he believes Hansen would also have to prove some one other than Heller would have won because of the errors. He said they failed to do that and dismissed the election challenge.

Angle congratulated Heller on his primary victory and said she will "do everything to defeat the Democratic nominee."

Angle also thanked Maddox for hearing the case and allowing her to bring evidence of problems with the Washoe primary vote. She said shining a light on those problems should help make sure they don't recur in the November election.