State statute governing election appeals being challenged on constitutional grounds
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A former Hinds County supervisor’s efforts to overturn the 2019 Democratic primary results on the grounds of residency could lead to a state election law being changed.
Darrel McQuirter is challenging District Two Supervisor David Archie in court, saying Archie shouldn’t have been able to run for supervisor based on residency requirements.
He is currently seeking a rehearing in his case before the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, Sam Begley, an attorney for McQuirter, has notified the state attorney general that he is challenging the constitutionality of a state code governing election appeals.
“There is a rule of the supreme court that when a party raises an issue of the constitutionality of a statute on appeals, that they must notify the attorney general, so the attorney general can defend the constitutionality of the statute if they choose,” Begley said.
Archie unseated McQuirter in the 2019 Democratic primary. He went on to win the seat in November.
McQuirter, though, said Archie was not qualified to run in the district because he didn’t live there and took the case to the Hinds County Circuit Court.
That court ruled in favor of Archie, and the matter was appealed to the state Supreme Court.
In December, the justices ruled in favor of Archie, in part, because the state law governing election appeals limited them on what evidence could be reviewed.
“We lost because the majority said they could not review the facts of the case,” Begley said. “They had to take what the trail court says.”
Begley is seeking a rehearing in the matter, in part, based on comments made in the dissenting opinion, which was written by Associate Justice Kenny Griffis.
The court ruled in favor of Archie on a 4-3 vote, with Griffis writing the dissenting opinion.
Griffis questioned whether Miss. Code Section 23-15-933 violated the state constitution’s separation of powers provision because it limited what the supreme court could review in an election appeal.
Under the statute, individuals can appeal to a lower court’s ruling in the case of an election to the supreme court.
However, if no election commissioners involved in the case dissent to the lower court’s findings, “the facts shall not be subject to appellate review.”
Speaking for the dissenters, Griffis opined, “I do not believe that the framers of our constitution intended that this court’s appellate review would be limited based on the filing of a dissent by an election commissioner.”
Begley, who did not initially challenge the case on constitutional merits, wrote that if justices declared that law unconstitutional, the facts of the case would be subject to review.
The question then is whether Archie resided in District Two when he ran for the seat.
Archie maintains that he lived at 3426 Shady Oaks St. In Jackson, which is located in the county’s second district.
In his dissent, though, Griffis questioned whether Archie actually lived at the address in question.
“For years, the home had gone without water, gas, or electricity, and while Archie testified that he spent nights at Shady Oaks… the evidence clearly indicated that the Shady Oaks home was virtually unlivable until 2019, after the election.”
Archie also has homes on Clubview Drive and Flora Drive, according to court documents.
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