Virginia Supreme Court Dismisses Petition to Appeal in McAuliffe Signature Lawsuit


The Virginia Supreme Court refused a petition to appeal the dismissal of a lawsuit over the missing signature on Terry McAuliffe’s election paperwork. On Thursday, attorney Peter Hansen argued in a writ panel that the court should take up the appeal, saying that McAuliffe failed to file a valid declaration of candidacy, and that when the city of Richmond Circuit Court dismissed the case, it did so based on speculation.

“Unfortunately, the trial court effectually made up facts. There’s nothing in the evidence, nothing in the record that suggested that Mr. McAuliffe was present when he didn’t sign the declaration. There’s nothing in evidence that suggests he raised his hand as if taking an oath, and that’s what ‘sworn to under my hand’ means,” Hansen told the panel.

“The trial court probably strained to either insert facts of its own invention or novel definitions because in essence the court believed there’s no big deal here, it’s just a technical issue,” he said. “That’s completely wrong. This is critical. What’s at stake in this case is the principle that everybody obeys the same law at the same time in the same way.”

Hansen asked the court to either take up the case itself and remove McAuliffe from the ballot, allowing the Democratic Party of Virginia to replace him with someone else, or to send the case back down to the lower court.

The court refused the petition, briefly stating in an order, “Upon review of the record in this case and consideration of the argument submitted in support of the granting of an appeal, the Court is of the opinion there is no reversible error in the judgment complained of.”

Hansen had asked for an expedited petition, which did not give the Office of the Attorney General time to respond. The attorney general represents state agencies and officials in official lawsuits. Earlier in October, Assistant Attorney General Carol Lewis argued that Virginia law deliberately provides options for how the declaration of candidacy is filed.

The case, Roy L. Perry-Bey, et al. v. Christopher E. Piper, Commissioner of the Department of Elections, et al., is one of several similar lawsuits arguing that McAuliffe’s declaration of candidacy is invalid and that it unfairly placed him at the top of the ballot in the Democratic primary, above several minority candidates. The Virginia GOP has also announced its own lawsuit.

Hansen said he’s considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“That’s obviously a disappointing decision for me and my clients. There are further remedies, which we’re looking into,” Hansen told The Virginia Star. “This case and the facts that underlie the case are very important to my clients, and they are absolutely sincere in their belief that the way this declaration of candidacy was submitted and accepted worked an extreme injustice upon them, and they feel disenfranchised.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Background Photo “Virginia Supreme Court” by Morgan Riley. CC BY 3.0.





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