Clerk wins appellate court decision over Moore ruling

GOODRICH — The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled a member of the village council should have had her name removed from the ballot for failing to indicate whether she was a U.S. citizen on her official paperwork.

Sherry Moore, a member of the Goodrich Village Council, was denied having her name appear on the Nov. 3 ballot by the Genesee County Election Commission because she had not checked the box on her paperwork indicating she was a U.S. citizen.

Moore appealed and 67th District Court Judge Mark Latchana ruled in favor of Moore, allowing her name to be on the ballot. She subsequently won the election and is serving on the council.

Genesee County Clerk John Gleason took the matter to the Michigan Court of Appeals and it ruled in his favor June 24, saying Moore should have been removed from the ballot.

According to the appeals court the case is important in establishing the rules going forward in future elections statewide.

Attorney Brian MacMillan, who represented the county, said in an email to the clerk’s office June 25, the Court of Appeals agreed with the county that Moore’s Affidavit of Identity (AOI) was facially fatally defective and that the clerk’s office did the only thing that the law allowed — they sent her a letter informing her that her name could not be certified to be on the ballot.

The Court of Appeals indicated the law did not allow her to amend/correct her AOI after the filing deadline and the trial court did not have the power to allow her to amend/correct it after the deadline.

“Most importantly, the Court of Appeals granted my request to issue this in a published opinion,” MacMillan wrote. “This means that the opinion is binding precedent going forward. Hopefully this means that we won’t have to deal with these lawsuits anymore when someone forgets to check a box. And even if one is filed, the trial courts will have to follow this binding opinion and quickly dismiss any attempt to amend/ correct the mistake.”

Gleason is calling the verdict a victory, saying it will force candidates to follow the rules when preparing an AOI for a potential ballot run.

“This, like the prior half dozen cases involving non-compliant candidates was a decision a fifth grader could have made. The law is well written and tremendously easy to understand. Judges Neithercutt, Joe Farah and now Mark Latchana for political reasons fumbled the rulings,” said Gleason. “The Appeals Court opinion is an embarrassment for all three. I think the ruling should trigger an investigation by the Judicial Tenure Commission and sanctions against all three. It was an absolute prostitution of election law and interfered with our Democratic process of free and fair elections.”

Gleason also thanked former County Commissioner Martin Cousineau for his help filing the appeal.

Latchana declined to comment due to ethical rules.