Court Activity

Lawsuit Seeks to Strike Down Nevada's Recall Election Laws | 10/18/17

LAS VEGAS -- A federal lawsuit challenging petitions to recall three Nevada state senators in districts with significant Hispanic and African-American populations alleges the effort is an unconstitutional attempt to replace the legislators with Republicans in violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

The suit filed October 16 in U.S. District Court also seeks to strike down Nevada's recall laws, which do not require any cause or justification for a recall as long as the petition has signatures from 25 percent of voters in the previous election.

Recall petitions were launched in August against Democratic Sens. Joyce Woodhouse of Henderson and Nicole Cannizzaro of Las Vegas, and Sen. Patricia Farley, a former Las Vegas Republican-turned-independent.

Two African-American and three Hispanic women who live in the districts are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The defendants are two election officials who would oversee any recalls -- Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and Clark County Registrar of Voters Joseph Gloria.

Among other things, the lawsuit says the recall elections would violate the Voting Rights Act because an election do-over would disproportionately impact minorities with lower turn-out rates in recall elections.

No Nevada lawmaker has ever been successfully recalled from office, according to The Nevada Independent, which first reported the lawsuit.

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Judge Blocks Potential Recall in Massachusetts Town | 06/06/17

TOWNSEND -- Pro-recall leaders and the selectman facing a potential recall election said a judge has blocked the election called for June 19.

"I have been notified that an injunction has been issued by the Court of Appeals STOPPING the recall," Selectman Cindy King, one of the two targets of the recalled, posted on Facebook late Friday. "Thank you for all the support. Have a great weekend!!"

Joe Shank and Kelly Kelly, prominent voices in the recall effort, and King all said on Saturday that they received a call from a court clerk about the ruling. All three said they had not seen a copy of the ruling.

John Dombrowski, King's attorney, declined comment on Saturday.

King had asked a Middlesex Superior Court judge to block the recall last month, which was unsuccessful. On Thursday, Dombrowski aruged before Appeals Court Justice Mark Green that the reasons the recall group gave to remove King and Selectman Gordon Clark are not covered by the town's recall bylaw.

It is not clear whether the Friday ruling would also cover Clark.

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Supreme Court Declines to Re-Open Walker Recall Election Campaign Probe | 10/05/16

MADISON, Wis. -- The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Oct. 3 to reopen a long-stalled investigation into Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's 2012 campaign against a recall effort, permanently ending a probe that had dogged the Republican even as he launched a brief presidential bid last year.

Last year, the Wisconsin Supreme Court shut down the so-called John Doe probe into whether Walker illegally coordinated with outside conservative groups. 

Walker, who won re-election in 2014 and is up for a third term in 2018, declined immediate comment Monday through his spokesman Joe Fadness, the AP reported:

The governor, who had been working to prepare Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for the vice presidential debate on Tuesday, had no public events planned.

Prosecutors investigated whether Walker's campaign coordinated with Wisconsin Club for Growth and other conservative groups on advertising during the 2012 recall without reporting the groups' contributions. The recall itself stemmed from Walker's signature law that stripped public unions of nearly all of their bargaining rights.

Those groups challenged the investigation, which was conducted under Wisconsin's John Doe law that allowed secret probes into misconduct by public officials. The judge overseeing the case determined the activity in question wasn't illegal and effectively halted the investigation in 2014.

Conservative-leaning justices who control the Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed and ended it last year. They ruled that the groups and the campaign's coordination on ads that don't expressly call for the election or defeat of a candidate amounts to free speech and isn't subject to disclosure requirements.

The Wisconsin Club for Growth, which fought the investigation, praised the court's decision to end it.

"From its inception, this proceeding was a politically motivated attack and a criminal investigation in search of a theory," said the group's president Eric O'Keefe in a prepared statement. He called for documents seized during the investigation to be given back.

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Continue reading “Supreme Court Declines to Re-Open Walker Recall Election Campaign Probe ”.

Could Judge in Stanford Rape Case Be Recalled? | 06/14/16

The case of Brock Turner, a former Stanford University student convicted of sexual assault, has gained national attention amid an outcry over the six-month sentence he received. More than a million people have signed recall petitions for Judge Aaron Persky, who issued the sentence.

After Turner's conviction in March, prosecutors requested six years in prison. Instead, Judge Persky decided to sentence Turner to six months in county jail and a requirement to register as a sex offender, in line with the probation officers' recommendations, The San Jose Mercury News reported.

The sentence fell below the "mandatory minimum" for the crime, which Persky attributed to Turner's youth, his intoxicated state, and his lack of criminal record. Following the survivor's testimony going viral, the public's response to the sentencing has been unprecedented, as The Christian Science Monitor reported.

Peter Lake, a professor at Stetson University College of Law and a Title IX expert, told The Monitor that "public attitudes about appropriate punishment often drives change".

One change many are calling for is the removal of Persky from the bench. There are two efforts to remove him, one focusing on a recall election and the other demanding his removal by the California Commission on Judicial Performance. Those demanding his removal by the judicial commission, which has not commented on the issue, delivered the petition with a million signatures at a rally on Friday.

Michele Dauber, the Stanford law professor who is part of the recall effort, told NPR that Persky's lenient sentencing due to Turner's drunkenness, academic accomplishments, and athletic success prior to the sentencing endangered college-aged women.

"That that description fits essentially every campus rape at Stanford certainly and many schools across the country," Dauber told NPR. "So it means that he has essentially taken campus rape out of the category of things you can go to prison for, and awarded it a lighter sentence."

Dr. Dauber is working with Progressive Women Silicon Valley on the recall election, and told NPR an official signature gathering effort for a recall vote would begin shortly. To reach the ballot, the petition would need the signature of 60,000 Santa Clara County voters, the Mercury News reported. If he is defeated, another candidate will be selected to replace Persky, who began a new six-year term last week after being reelected with no opponent.

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Judge Declines to Halt School Board Recall Election in Idaho | 04/01/16

A recall election against West Ada School District trustees will move forward without the courts intervening to stop it.

On Thursday, District Judge Deborah Bail issued a written ruling denying trustees Russell Joki and Carol Sayles' request for a preliminary injunction, which would have stopped the Ada and Canyon County clerks from putting recall language on the May 17 ballot.

"I'm disappointed," Sayles said Monday. "I was waiting for the judge's decision, and now I have work to do. ... I'm going to start campaigning for 'no on recall.'"

Joki said he plans to continue his term and imagines he will form a no-recall campaign as well. For now, he said, trustees' obligation is to support the new superintendent, Mary Ann Ranells, whom he said is doing an excellent job.

Board chairwoman Tina Dean also faces a recall election in May but was not part of the lawsuit.

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Judge Halts Recall Attempt in Texas Town | 03/19/16

Floresville -- A state judge has handed a major defeat to a group of Floresville residents seeking to recall their mayor and two council members, saying the election cannot be held in May or November, the two dates available this year.

No decision has been made on whether to appeal, recall supporters indicated Friday.

"In order to have lawfully placed the recall issue on the May 7, 2016 ballot the recall petition would have had to (have) been filed a good month before it was actually filed," Senior Judge Dick Alcalá ruled Thursday.

And the election can't be held Nov. 8, the next uniform election date, because it would violate the city charter, which states that a recall election can't be held on the same date as a regular election set for the same seat.

That's exactly what the city has been saying for months.

The judge's decision all but renders the recall effort moot because Mayor Sherry Castillo, Councilman Daniel Tejada and Councilman Juan Ortiz -- the subjects of the recall -- are up for reelection Nov. 8. Castillo said Friday she hasn't yet decided whether to run again; Tejada said he will be seeking reelection. Ortiz could not be reached Friday.

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Recall Approved Against County Prosecutor in Washington State | 08/12/15

TACOMA, Washington -- Barring a reversal by the state's highest court, an effort to recall Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist will move forward.

The recall petition was approved August 7 by Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jay Roof, a visiting judge appointed to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

In his ruling, Roof found legal and factual sufficiency for the charge that Lindquist abused his authority by "engaging in a vindictive prosecution of a Pierce County woman; withholding evidence, and obstructing justice."

The Pierce County woman is former Longbranch resident Lynn Dalsing, charged with sex crimes in 2010 and 2014 by county prosecutors, and accused of molesting her 7-year-old daughter.

Those charges have been dismissed twice, most recently in March by Superior Court Judge Edmund Murphy, who threw out charges of child rape against Dalsing due to prosecutorial vindictiveness. Prosecutors have appealed that decision.

Vindictive prosecution was one of 12 charges leveled against Lindquist in the recall petition. Roof's ruling rejected the other 11 charges.

The finding triggers a possible appeal by Lindquist to the state Supreme Court, which would have the final word. Lindquist isn't saying what he'll do.

Asked for comment Friday, Lindquist replied with an emailed statement:

"Our office charged Lynn Dalsing for one reason only -- evidence showed she assisted in the crimes of Child Rape, Molestation and Sexual Exploitation. Judges repeatedly found probable cause for the filing of these charges.

"I'm confident the people of Pierce County will support our efforts to pursue justice for the young victims and for our community."

Jeff Helsdon, attorney for recall proponent Cheryl Iseberg, replied with a statement of his own, noting that charges against Dalsing were dismissed:

"Mr. Lindquist continues to trot out the false statement that he stacked new charges on Lynn Dalsing because there was new evidence. Unfortunately for Mr. Lindquist, two judges saw things very differently.

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Supreme Court Won't Block Probe of Walker Recall Campaign | 05/18/15

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to end a state investigation into Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's 2012 recall campaign, rejecting an appeal from a conservative group that says its constitutional rights are being violated.

The rebuff leaves the future of the investigation in the hands of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which is considering a separate bid to stop the probe. The criminal investigation, on hold during the court fight, might complicate Walker's potential campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

A court-appointed special prosecutor, Francis Schmitz, is tasked with investigating whether Walker and his operatives violated state campaign-finance laws by coordinating their efforts with Club for Growth, an advocacy group.

The Wisconsin chapter of Club for Growth and its director, Eric O'Keefe, are fighting subpoenas they received from Schmitz seeking financial records. The group and O'Keefe sued in federal court to block the probe, and a federal trial judge said the First Amendment bars the state from trying to learn whether the organization coordinated with the Walker campaign.

A U.S. appeals court overturned that ruling, saying federal judges shouldn't entangle themselves in state criminal proceedings.

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Judge Allows Bradenton Beach Recall to Go Forward | 05/07/15

MANATEE -- A judge on Tuesday denied a citizen's request for a temporary injunction concerning a case connected with the recall election between Bradenton Beach Mayor William Shearon and Vice Mayor Jack Clarke.

At a court hearing that lasted more than an hour, Manatee Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith Jr. said he would allow the recall election to move forward.

Bradenton Beach resident John Metz, a regular at city meetings with his wife, Lee Anne Metz, had requested the temporary injunction before the May 19 election. He wanted Clarke booted from the recall ballot and a temporary injunction prohibiting Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Michael Bennett from printing additional recall ballots with the vice mayor's name on them.

Metz claimed Clarke's written resignation was not submitted at least 10 days prior to the first day of qualifying for the office. Clarke had to resign from his commission seat before submitting an application to qualify as a candidate in the recall election.

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Ohio Supreme Court Okays Mayoral Recall Election | 09/23/14

COLUMBUS -- The Ohio Supreme Court refused to block a special recall election of Richmond Heights Mayor Miesha Headen, clearing the way for residents to vote Tuesday (Sept. 23).

In its decision Monday, the court said Richmond Heights resident James Dawson, who sought to halt the recall vote, had failed to show any disqualifying defects in petitioning process that triggered the vote and that his constitutional arguments were "without merit."

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Michigan Town Slates Mayoral Recall Election | 08/14/14

BENTON HARBOR - The Benton Harbor mayoral recall election will be on the Nov. 4 ballot.

That was the order issued on August 12 by Berrien County Trial Court Judge John Dewane after hearing testimony Aug. 7 during a civil trial.

The decision to schedule the election hinged on Dewane's decision that the practice of the Berrien County Clerk's Office to disqualify both signatures if a person signed a recall petition twice violates the person's First Amendment free speech rights.

Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler said in a press release that she was surprised by his ruling, since it was based on an issue that had not been raised until the day of the trial.

Tyler said she dealt with the duplicate signatures as she had been instructed by the state Bureau of Elections.

"It appears that the court's ruling today will likely have state-wide implications on the bureau, as well as all county and local clerks in the state of Michigan concerning their qualifying of petition signatures," she said.

The recall election between Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower and City Commissioner Marcus Muhammad was originally scheduled for May 4 but was halted at Tyler's request so the recall petition signatures could be further examined for validity.

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Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Union Law that Led to Walker Recall | 07/31/14

MADISON, Wis. -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the 2011 law that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers, sparked massive protests and led to Republican Gov. Scott Walker's recall election and rise to national prominence.

The 5-2 ruling upholds the signature policy achievement of Walker in its entirety and is a major victory for the potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate, who is seeking re-election this year.

The ruling also marks the end of the three-year legal fight over the union rights law, which prohibits public worker unions from collectively bargaining for anything beyond base wage increases based on inflation. A federal appeals court twice upheld the law as constitutional.

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Stay Sought of Injunction Halting Walker Recall Probe | 05/07/14

MADISON -- Wisconsin prosecutors have appealed a federal judge's decision to halt the investigation into Gov. Scott Walker's 2012 recall campaign and conservative groups that supported him.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday blocking the probe into whether Walker's campaign illegally coordinated with those groups about the spending. Randa also ordered prosecutors to destroy all their evidence.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to stay the injunction on Wednesday, May 7.

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Washington Town Mayor Faces Recall Election in June | 04/30/14

After a long process, the issues surrounding Bridgeport Mayor Marilynn Lynn will be settled by the voters.

The recall election has been formally established to be held on June 3, with the results being certified by June 17.

Bridgeport citizen Michael Knox began the process to recall Lynn on Jan. 21, submitting a type written charge citing 14 complaints of Lynn committing misfeasance or malfeasance. As described by state law, "misfeasance or malfeasance in office means any wrongful conduct that affects, interrupts or interferes with the performance of official duty.

Knox and Lynn attended a court hearing on Feb. 4 to determine the validity of the claims. The allegation that was ruled legally and factually sufficient was the claim that Lynn illegally hired a city employee without the consent of the Bridgeport City Council, as stated in Bridgeport's City Code.

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Judge in Wisconsin Recall Probe: No Wrongdoing | 03/19/14

MADISON, Wis. -- The judge overseeing a secret investigation into possible illegal coordination between conservative groups and recent recall campaigns said in a ruling earlier this year he doesn't think anybody did anything wrong, according to court documents.

The documents, filed this week, offer some of the most definitive details yet on the probe. The investigation is being conducted as a so-called John Doe probe, a proceeding similar to a grand jury investigation where information is tightly controlled and witnesses can't speak publicly about their testimony.

The conservative group Club for Growth has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop the investigation, arguing prosecutors are harassing conservatives. Attorneys for a state Government Accountability Board investigator working on the probe filed a heavily redacted brief on March 12 asking U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa to toss the lawsuit.

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Judge Upholds Colorado Town's Recall Election | 02/25/14

SAGUACHE COUNTY--Saguache District Court Judge Martin Gonzales issued a "judgment" declaring the town of Center recall election valid, ordering that current trustees be removed and former contestees be rightfully seated.

Another election is scheduled on April 1 -- only six weeks away -- and petitioners wish to take their rightful positions in advance of the next election to alleviate voter confusion.

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Colorado Supreme Court to Rule on Town's Recall Election | 09/24/13

DENVER -- Colorado's Supreme Court will decide whether to order a new recall election in the town of Center, which straddles Rio Grande and Saguache counties.

The town held a recall election of four municipal officials in March, but some people say that election needs to be redone because some identifying tabs were left on absentee ballots. The result was that vote-counters knew how some people voted, violating the right to a secret ballot.

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Colorado Sec. State Sues Governor to Set Date for Recall | 07/16/13

DENVER -- In a surprise move late Sunday, Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler filed suit against Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, aiming to force the governor to set a date for a recall election in Colorado Springs, FOX31 Denver is first to report.

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Wisconsin Man Fined for Forging Recall Petition Signatures | 06/28/13

A Racine man said he let his "emotions run wild" in the "toxic political environment in the state of Wisconsin" and that's why he forged more than a half-dozen signatures on recall election petitions seeking to unseat Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard.

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Ruling Due on Recall Effort against Chattanooga Mayor | 08/30/12

A ruling on the recall effort against Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield should happen within weeks. The Tennessee Court of Appeals heard from attorneys on August 29 in Knoxville and promised to give a decision as soon as possible with a November election looming 21/2 months away, said Chris Clem, attorney for the Hamilton County Election Commission

Click here for full article.

El Paso Recall Clock May Be Running Out | 04/01/12

Even if the Texas Supreme Court were to side with a group trying to recall Mayor John Cook and two city representatives, the court and election calendars make a recall all but impossible, Cook's lawyer said Friday.

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ND Court Blocks Recall of Senator Conrad | 12/21/10

On Tuesday, December 21, 2010, the North Dakota Supreme Court blocked the efforts of Tea Party activists seeking to recall U.S. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND). The court ruled that state law provides for the recall only of state and local elected officials, and not members of Congress (RECALLND v. Jaeger, 2010 ND 250 (2010)). The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) filed a brief in support of local tea party organizations who sought a recall of Sen. Conrad, arguing that when the state Constitution refers to "recall," it applies to any elected official of the state, including Senators and Congressmen. Since the decision is based on state law, there can be no appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, North Dakota tea party organizations are beginning efforts to amend the North Dakota Constitution to apply its recall provisions to members of Congress in order to maintain democratic accountability of all elected officials.

Click here to read the opinion.

New Jersey Supreme Court Rules State Constitution's Recall Law Unconstitutional | 11/24/10

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled 4-2 on November 18, 2010, that a provision in the state Constitution providing for recall of all elected officials, including Congressmen and U.S. Senators, was unconstitutional, overruling a unanimous lower court decision.

Click here to view the decision (PDF).

Complaint Filed in North Dakota Supreme Court to Allow Recall of U.S. Senator Kent Conrad | 07/20/10

On July 14, North Dakota joined New Jersey in an effort to recall a U.S. Senator.

RecallND filed a complaint with the North Dakota Supreme Court claiming that the state's Secretary of State has unconstitutionally blocked a petition to recall U.S. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND).

The complaint indicates that on May 13 North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem published an opinion concluding that the North Dakota State Constitution does not allow for the recall of a U.S. Senator. On the same day, the office of the North Dakota Secretary of State claimed to have no authority to approve the circulation of RecallND's recall petition.

Continue reading “Complaint Filed in North Dakota Supreme Court to Allow Recall of U.S. Senator Kent Conrad ”.

ACRU Files Brief Urging N.J. Supreme Court to Allow Menendez Recall Petitions | 05/10/10

The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) today filed a brief with the New Jersey Supreme Court urging the justices to affirm a state appellate court ruling ordering the Secretary of State to recognize a recall notice for U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D). If the court concurs, petitioners could begin immediately to collect the 1.3 million signatures needed within 320 days to put Menendez on the ballot. Menendez, who was elected in 2006, is not slated for re-election until 2012.

Continue reading “ACRU Files Brief Urging N.J. Supreme Court to Allow Menendez Recall Petitions ”.

ACRU Urges NJ Supreme Court to Deny Sen. Menedez Petition to Hear Recall Appeal | 04/21/10

"Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) petitioned the New Jersey Supreme Court to hear his appeal from the ruling of a state appellate court that a citizens committee seeking a recall election to remove him from office could proceed to circulate petitions to collect the signatures required under the New Jersey Constitution to qualify for such an election. The American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) filed an amicus curiae brief on April 21, 2010 with the New Jersey Supreme Court urging it to deny the petition from Senator Menendez to hear the case on the grounds that the circulation of petitions and the collection of signatures is political activity and political expression protected by the First Amendment which consequently should be allowed to proceed."

Click here to download the brief. (PDF)

Senator Menendez Appeals Recall | 04/13/10

"A brief was filed on April 12, 2010 in Senator Menendez's behalf petitioning the New Jersey Supreme Court to hear arguments that the recall petition drive should be halted before it has begun. They claim that even though we have the right to elect the Senator, once elected, the People have no control over, nor right to change such a representative until the next election, six years later. Their argument, logically means that even if our Senator was completely incapacitated, and unable to represent our interests, we would have no right to replace him. That decision would lie in the hands of men such as Harry Reid. Clearly, the Founders did not have that situation in mind when they wrote the Constitution."

Click here to download the brief. (PDF)

ACRU Cheers New Jersey Court's Approval of Menendez Recall Petition | 03/16/10

"It's a huge win for self-government and the rule of law," says ACRU's Susan Carleson.

The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey this morning ruled that a petition effort by two state Tea parties to recall Sen. Robert Menendez can go forward, pending an appeal by Menendez's attorney.

The 3-0 ruling by the court says that the petition drive must wait 35 days while the Menendez team decides whether to appeal.

Continue reading “ACRU Cheers New Jersey Court's Approval of Menendez Recall Petition”.

Let People Decide, ACRU Says in New Jersey Recall Brief | 02/09/10

Today the American Civil Rights Union filed an amicus brief (PDF) in support of a grassroots citizens effort to petition for recall of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

The Sussex County Tea Party and NJ Tea Parties United, which filed the original petition request to gather signatures as The Committee to Recall Senator Robert Menendez from the United States Senate, contend that Menendez has violated his oath of office by voting for unconstitutional measures such as the attempted government health care takeover bill.

The New Jersey Secretary of State at the time rebuffed the request. So the matter is in court. Menendez is up for re-election in 2012. A successful recall petition drive could put him on the ballot this November.

Continue reading “Let People Decide, ACRU Says in New Jersey Recall Brief”.