Sauerbrey lawsuit to go to trial

January 05, 1995|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Sun Staff Writer

Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey's claim that the gubernatorial election should be overturned deserves a full hearing and will go to trial next week, a judge ruled yesterday.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. cleared the way for the trial -- unprecedented in Maryland -- when he rejected requests by Gov.-elect Parris N. Glendening and state election officials to dismiss Mrs. Sauerbrey's challenge.

They had argued that Mrs. Sauerbrey's lawsuit was filed either too late or in the wrong venue.

"The interests of justice might be better served by a full presentation of the evidence," Judge Thieme wrote, quoting a 1980 Maryland appellate court decision.

The trial is scheduled to begin in Judge Thieme's courtroom Monday -- only nine days before Mr. Glendening's scheduled inauguration, an event Mrs. Sauerbrey hopes to block.

Mrs. Sauerbrey's lawsuit contends that Mr. Glendening's victory was tainted by irregularities and possible fraud affecting about 11,000 votes. The suit asks the court to award her the governor's office or order a new election.

"Obviously we're very pleased with the court's order," said Jane Williams-Ward, a spokesman for the Sauerbrey camp.

Bruce L. Marcus, the lead attorney for Mr. Glendening, said the judge's ruling was no surprise, given the high stakes of the case.

"We believe that the ruling of the court, given the seriousness of this case, is extremely prudent and will prove most enlightening for all of Maryland's citizens," Mr. Marcus said.

The final tally showed Mr. Glendening won the election by a margin of only 5,993 votes out of more than 1.4 million cast.

Over the last two months, Mrs. Sauerbrey has focused her nearly around-the-clock investigation on the only three jurisdictions Mr. Glendening carried -- Baltimore City and Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

Lawyers for Mr. Glendening and state officials are scheduled to go to court today to complain that the Sauerbrey camp has been slow to provide details of some allegations.

Attorneys for Mr. Glendening said, for example, that Mrs. Sauerbrey's representatives waited until yesterday to give them a list of 37 dead people in whose names votes were allegedly cast in Baltimore.

Even then, the list of names contained no addresses or ward and precinct numbers to help the Democrats investigate the claim, according to one lawyer in the case.

"We have been greatly disappointed by our inability to secure the data upon which the claim is allegedly founded," Mr. Marcus said.

Lawyers for Mr. Glendening asked Judge Thieme for a chance to air their complaints, and the judge ordered both sides to appear today.

The judge also tried to clarify one of Mrs. Sauerbrey's claims by ordering state corrections officials to provide identifying information -- such as date of birth -- for thousands of inmates in the state prison system.

Mrs. Sauerbrey's lawsuit claims that 4,774 votes were cast in the name of people who were incarcerated on Election Day. Her representatives later conceded that they had merely found many voters with the same names as people who were incarcerated.

In motions filed last Friday, attorneys for Mr. Glendening contended that Mrs. Sauerbrey's lawsuit should be dismissed because she missed the deadline for challenging the lists of registered voters around the state.

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