Learn About the Law
Get help with your legal needs
IN RE: the Application of Christian John FUENTES, Leon G. Moise & Michael T. Golding, Petitioners, v. Anthony CATALANO & Orlando Marrazzo, Jr., candidates and Manuel Ortega & Sheila T. McGinn, Presiding Officer and Secretary of the 13th Judicial District Convention of the Democratic Party, and the Board of Elections in the City of New York, Respondents, For an Order Pursuant to Sections 16-100, 16-102 and 16-116 of the Election Law, Declaring Invalid the Respondents' Certificate of Nomination and convention Minutes making nomination for Justice of the Supreme Court 13th Judicial District, in the 2018 General Election and Restraining said Board from placing the names of Anthony Catalano and Orlando Marrazzo, Jr. on the ballot in said General Election (s).
IN RE: the Application of Anthony Catalano, Orlando Marrazzo, Jr., Manuel Ortega, Sheila T. McGinn, Petitioners, v. Christian John Fuentes, Leon G. Moise & Michael T. Golding, Objectors, The Board of Elections in the City of New York, Respondents, For an Order Pursuant to Sections 16-100, 16-102 and 16-116 of the Election Law, declaring valid the Certificate which Nominated the Petitioners as Candidates of the Democratic Party for the Public Office of Justice of the Supreme Court, from the 13th Judicial District, County of Richmond, in the General Election to be held on November 6, 2018, and to order said Board of Elections to print and place the name of said Candidate upon the official ballots of such Election.
At the Judicial Convention of the Democratic Party held on September 20, 2018 for the Thirteenth Judicial District, Anthony Catalano and Orlando Marrazzo, Jr. were named as the Party's candidates for Justice of the Supreme Court for such district in the November 6, 2018 general election.
Christian Fuentes, Leon Moise and Michael Golding move here to invalidate the certificate of nomination and minutes naming Mr. Catalano and Mr. Marrazzo as candidates for Supreme Court and to restrain the Board of Elections from placing their names on the ballot in November (Index No. 80089/2018).
For their part, the two candidates and convention officers Manuel Ortega and Sheila McGinn move to validate the certificate of nomination and convention minutes and to order the placing of Catalano and Marrazzo on the ballot in November's general election as the candidates of the Democratic Party for Supreme Court Justice in the district that is coterminous with the county of Richmond (Index No. 880087/2018).1
These applications were made returnable on Wednesday, October 10, 2018; service on the named parties and the Board of Elections of the City of New York was timely made on or before Friday, October 5. On October 9, 2018, at a meeting of the Board, arguments were heard and the Board, voting five-to-five, took no position.
From the motion papers, the letter brief on behalf of Mr. Fuentes et al (the “petitioners” in this Order), the memorandum of law on behalf of Mr. Catalano et al (the “respondents” in this Order), and oral argument on October 10, the case comes down to whether the failure to have the convention minutes certified by the chairwoman and secretary of the convention is a fatal defect which invalidates the nomination of the two candidates.2
The Election Law provides that the certificate of nomination must be filed one day after the last day that a judicial convention could have been held, which in 2018, was the day after Monday, September 24. Catalano et al complied with subdivision 6 of section 6-158 - - they filed their nominating petition on September 25.
The same provision of law provides that the minutes of the convention, certified by its chairperson and secretary shall be filed within 72 hours after adjournment of the convention. The 13th District Judicial Convention adjourned on the evening of Thursday, September 20 (7:15 p.m.) and filed the minutes therefor with the Board of Elections of the City of New York on Monday afternoon, September 24 at around 1 p.m (Petitioners' exhibit 4). Such a 72-hour period that ends on Sunday advances to Monday, and, by itself, the filing of the convention minutes would satisfy the calendar (and the clock).
Timeliness is critical. Subdivision 2 of section 1-106 (added in 1969 to what was then section 143 of the Election Law), reads as follows: “The failure to file any petition or certificate relating to the designation or nomination of a candidate for party position or public office or to the acceptance or declination of such designation or nomination within the time prescribed by the provisions of this chapter shall be a fatal defect.”
In 1982, ten candidates from the Democratic Party's judicial convention for New York County had their nominations invalidated because the certificate of nomination was filed one day late (Gammerman v. Board of Elections of City of NY, 57 N.Y.2d 888, 456 N.Y.S.2d 48, 442 N.E.2d 446, affg 90 A.D.2d 461, 454 N.Y.S.2d 1016 [1st Dept.], rev'g 115 Misc.2d 1055, 455 N.Y.S.2d 494 [Supreme Court, New York County] ). The First Department cited Matter of Carr v. New York State Bd. of Elections, 40 N.Y.2d 556, 388 N.Y.S.2d 87, 356 N.E.2d 713.
The Carr case was heard well after election day, but considered because of the likelihood of the issue re-occurring. The Court of Appeals invalidated the nominations of three judicial candidates from the Liberal Party because the certificate therefor was a day late. The Court looked to the memorandum of introduction of the Secretary of State in 1969 for what became section 1-106 (2) of the Election Law:
“The bill will [make] ․ the time limitations provided therefor absolute and not a matter subject to the exercise of discretion by the courts ․ The mandatory nature of the provisions of the Election Law relating to the time for filing establishes the rules of the game, which should be applied to all with equal effect ․ A liberal construction of such provisions would diminish their effect, resulting in confusion and inequality” (40 N.Y.2d at 558, 388 N.Y.S.2d 87, 356 N.E.2d 713).
In Thomas v. New York State Board of Elections, 44 A.D.3d 1155, 843 N.Y.S.2d 725 (3d Dept.), affg 17 Misc 3d 1116(A), 2007 WL 3049953, two Supreme Court justice candidates were nominated by the Working Families Party on Monday, September 24, 2007 with the convention adjourning at 8 p.m. On September 27, at 5:30 p.m., a notary public was directed by the party to file the minutes by mailing them to the State Board of Elections. The post office was closed; the last mail pick up was 5:45 p.m.; the notary dropped them in the mail box at about that time, but they were not postmarked until the next day.
The Third Department stated that a court, in its discretion, could “excuse the untimely filing of convention minutes when the delay in filing was brief and [does] not prejudice the integrity of the electoral process or disrupt the electoral machinery,” quoting Murphy v. Acito, 65 A.D.2d 661, 409 N.Y.S.2d 562 (3d Dept.), lv denied 45 N.Y.2d 712, 411 N.Y.S.2d 1025, 383 N.E.2d 563. However, the Third Department upheld Special Term in refusing to excuse the late filing “in light of both the disruption to the electoral process that would occur if the delay were excused and [the] failure to offer any excuse for the delay.” Special Term relied, in part, on the State Board's explanation that the change in the 2007 primary calendar had shortened the time to the general election, which especially impacted absentee and military voters.
In any event, this matter is not about timeliness, but the substance of the minutes. Respondents rely on Matter of Hurd v. Stout, 97 A.D.2d 616, 468 N.Y.S.2d 220 (3d Dept.) which distinguishes the minutes from the certificate of nomination:
“Moreover, the two documents are inherently dissimilar since they make different representations; the minutes recite what actions transpired at the convention while the certificate of nomination is the embodiment of the ultimate disposition of the convention's deliberations” (97 A.D.2d at 617, 468 N.Y.S.2d 220).3
The Second Department has ruled that judicial convention minutes are entitled to a presumption of regularity (Reda v. Mehile, 197 A.D.2d 723, 603 N.Y.S.2d 166). The Reda court contrasted Meader v. Barasch, 133 A.D.2d 925, 521 N.Y.S.2d 113 (3d Dept.), which invalidated a nomination for Supreme Court Justice where the convention minutes indicated that 20 delegates voted for Meader and 7 for another candidate, establishing that a quorum of 34 delegates was not present.
The Fuentes petitioners point to Matter of McCormack v. Jablonski, 132 A.D.3d 921, 18 N.Y.S.3d 426 (2d Dept.) and Matter of Dadey v. Czarny, 132 A.D.3d 1427, 18 N.Y.S.3d 496 (4th Dept.). Matter of McCormack involved the nominations of multiple candidates by the Women's Equality Party to town and city offices in Dutchess County. The Second Department invalidated the certificate of nomination: while it contained the notarized signatures of the presiding officer and secretary, there was no statement from either attesting to the truth of what was in the certificate. The Court ruled that such was a departure from prescribed content and not “a mere error in form” (132 A.D.3d at 923, 18 N.Y.S.3d 426).
In Matter of Dadey, the Fourth Department came out the same way and for the same reasons. However, bear in mind that in each case, at issue was a certificate of nomination, not the proceeding's minutes.
Matter of Hurd v. Stout supports viewing the convention minutes in a different light than a certificate of nomination. The minutes are to inform us as to what happened at the convention. Thus, in Meader v. Barasch, they were the basis for extinguishing the nominee's candidacy because a quorum was lacking.
For the 13th Judicial District convention, we have a 31-page transcript of what transpired, including: placing names in nomination, calling the roll, electing officers and remarks of candidates (Petitioners'exh 2). Read into the record was a letter from the State Democratic Party Chairman to the Richmond County Democratic Chair, which contained the following: “Please note that ․ the Election Law requires that within 72 hours after adjournment ․ the minutes of the Convention, duly certified by the Chair and Secretary shall be filed with ․ the New York City Board of Elections” (id., pages 5-6).
As we know, such was not done. With that said, this Court concludes the convention minutes “make different representations.” The Court is not otherwise persuaded by the fact that the convention minutes, admitted into evidence, were not sworn to by the reporter; no objection to that effect was made at the hearing.4
In view of the foregoing, IT IS ORDERED that
The Application (Index No. 80089/2018) of Christian Fuentes, Leon Moise and Michael Golding to invalidate the certificate of nomination and convention minutes of the 13th Judicial District Convention of the Democratic Party making nomination for Justice of the Supreme Court 13th Judicial District, in the 2018 general election and restraining the Board of Elections of the City of New York said Board from placing the names of Anthony Catalano and Orlando Marrazzo, Jr. on the ballot in the November 6, 2018 general election is: Denied, and;
The Application (Index No. 80087/2018) of Anthony Catalano, Orlando Marrazzo, Jr., Manual Ortega and Sheila McGinn to declare valid the certificate of nomination and convention minutes of the 13th Judicial District Convention of the Democratic Party making nomination for Justice of the Supreme Court 13th Judicial District, in the 2018 general election and to order the Board of Elections of the City of New York to place the names of Anthony Catalano and Orlando Marrazzo, Jr. on the ballot in November 6, 2018 general election is: Granted.
1. Index numbers 80089/2018 and 80087/2018 are consolidated for purposes of disposition.
2. It is undisputed that the minutes filed with the Board were not certified by the convention's chairperson or secretary (Respondents' Trial Memorandum of Law, October 10, 2018, p 2). The representative of the Board of Elections expressed concern about a lack of verification in one set of papers, but such was corrected in the subsequent submission, and in any case, the issue does not effects consideration of motions 80089/2018 and 80087/2018, citing: Matter of Goodman v. Hayduk, 45 N.Y.2d 804, 409 N.Y.S.2d 7, 381 N.E.2d 165; Matter of Tenneriello v. Board of Elections of City of NY, 63 N.Y.2d 700, 479 N.Y.S.2d 978, 468 N.E.2d 1115; and Niebauer v. Board of Elections in the City of NY, 76 A.D.3d 660, 905 N.Y.S.2d 776 (2d Dept.). Secondly, the respondents argue that the State Chairman of the Democratic Party should have been served, citing Matter of Regan v. New York State Bd. of Elections, 207 A.D.2d 647, 616 N.Y.S.2d 109 and Matter of Vasquez v. Smith, 224 A.D.2d 822, 637 N.Y.S.2d 806, but those Third Department cases involved the State Party's rules for selecting judicial convention delegates.
3. The Hurd court, in 1983, made reference to the fact that certificates of nomination and convention minutes are governed by different statutes. The latter had been in § 6-126 until it became part of § 6-158 (6) by Chapter 378 of the Laws of 1986.
4. In the certification of nomination, the convention's chairwoman and secretary were sworn before a notary, as were the two judicial candidates in their respective certificates of acceptance (Petitioners' exh 1)
Alan C. Marin, J.
Response sent, thank you
Docket No: 80089/2018, 80087/2018
Decided: October 11, 2018
Court: Supreme Court, Richmond County, New York.
Search our directory by legal issue
Enter information in one or both fields (Required)
FindLaw for Legal Professionals
Search our directory by legal issue
Enter information in one or both fields (Required)