I wanted to wait until I had more complete details before posting on the results of the Link petition challenge hearing yesterday, but the public is clamoring for the scoop, so here is what I know:
As has been reported to me, the Link petition challenge was held yesterday before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), a fancy title for 'hearing officer.' Pete Couvall, the Democratic vice-chairman, and the person who notarized all of Link's petitions, was subpoenaed by Jerry Johnson's attorney, as were Jerry Knight and Kenneth Davison, who were the primary Link petition circulators.
Kenneth Davison testified that he forged some signatures himself and went door to door and asked some people to sign for everyone who lived at the house. Some of Davison's signatures were rejected and some were allowed.
The bigger issue, however, is that Johnson's attorney was not allowed to present any evidence of an overall "pattern of fraud" because that was not specifically alleged in the original petition challenge document itself. Thus, Johnson's attorney was not allowed to argue that Davison's and Knight's petitions should all be thrown out based on the argument that they were inherently tainted and unreliable as a group.
Knight took the stand and denied he forged any signatures, and stated that he lived at the address he gave on the petitions (which is required for petition circulators). Couvall testified that he picked up Knight on several occasions from that address. However, the landlord for that address also testified, and he stated that Knight had not lived there since sometime in 2006. Knight's petitions were ultimately allowed.
The end result is that Link remains on the ballot at this stage.
I understand that Johnson's attorney intends to appeal to the full Election Board. I have not spoken to him myself, and I am no election law expert, but if the ALJ's ruling was that "pattern of fraud" was not allowed to be argued because it was not in the original complaint, I would think that the main issue on appeal is that Johnson should have been allowed to amend the complaint to add the 'pattern of fraud' argument, based on the discovery of all of the forgeries and dead folks, many or most of which came to light after the petition challenge was filed. Election challenges, however, have their own set of rules, so I could be dead wrong on that.
I also understand that because the 'pattern of fraud' argument was disallowed, no affidavits of people who stated that they did not sign the petition (and which had been collected by Johnson's team) were allowed into evidence, and none of the death certificates of the dead folks whose names appeared on the petitions were allowed either. That, I do not understand, since you would think that even if such evidence were not allowed to support a 'pattern of fraud' argument, they would at least be evidence of a specific challenge to a specific signature. So, there may be some missing facts here, but I will be providing updates as I get more information.