The industrial engineer, cancer research scientist, and pioneering election law attorney who is running for Erie County Executive — Peter A. Reese — filed his appellate brief in the case of Reese v. Board of Elections and offered oral arguments at the New York State Supreme Court’s Fourth Appellate Division in Rochester on Thursday morning.
By 5:00 pm that afternoon, the Court issued a slew of election law decisions — nearly all of them upholding trial court rulings that had the effect of restricting ballot access for opposition political candidates.
John Centra served as presiding justice, with associate justices Edward Carni, Brian DeJoseph, and Joanne Winslow. Patrick NeMoyer, who was to hear the case on the typically five-member appellate panel, recused himself.
Reese had argued, among other things, that the specific objections ostensibly filed by Lynn Dearmyer were frivolous since Dearmyer had attested in her court filings that she never logged into the Board of Elections to review voter logs and signatures. Attorneys Jessica Kuplit, Britney Penberthy, and Jeremy Toth argued on behalf of the respondents.
In Court documents — and in her objections filed at the Board — Dearmyer claimed to have compiled the Board records properly and reviewed Board records, but subsequently contradicted that claim to assert that she didn’t look at Board records.
“Nothing says we have to look at Board records,” Kulpit argued.
Before it became obvious that Dearmyer never logged in to review the Board’s voter database, she had claimed in Court filings that she did review voter signature cards before attesting to the accusation that some 487 signatures on the nominating petition did not match voter signature cards.
“So it’s your opinion that you don’t have to show the validity of your objections,” asked Justice Winslow.
“Absolutely not,” Kupit responded.
Reese has alleged that the objections filed by Dearmyer were compiled by Democratic Party staffers at the Board of Election — and they were done either on public time or after hours when the Board was closed to public access. Either situation would constitute an egregious use of taxpayer resources to thwart opposition political candidates from accessing the ballot.
But before witness testimony could be heard — with Election Commissioners Jeremy Zellner and Ralph Mohr under subpoena — State Supreme Court Judge Christopher Burns refused to hear any witness testimony at all, before adjourning the case and denying Reese’s motion to show cause and motion to validate his nominating petition.
The behavior shocked courtroom observers and has raised serious questions about the impartiality of New York’s Courts — particularly on election law matters.
The Appellate brief can be read below, or here: Reese v Dearmyer Brief.
Responding briefs can be read below.