Judge denies suit over NAACP vote Ex-official of group aimed to reverse 1995 election

June 19, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

An Anne Arundel Circuit judge yesterday threw out a suit filed by the former president of the county NAACP aimed at reversing the results of a 1995 election she narrowly lost.

Judge Eugene M. Lerner ruled that he lacked jurisdiction over Jean A. Creek's suit because Maryland judges are barred from second-guessing decisions of an out-of-state entity such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"Maryland Courts lack subject matter jurisdiction when the internal affairs of a foreign [out-of-state] corporation are in dispute," Lerner wrote in a two-page decision granting the NAACP's request for summary judgment.

The case should be tried in the New York courts where the NAACP is incorporated, Lerner ruled.

Creek, ousted after 18 years as chapter president, said the ruling upholds the results of an election that she called unfair and illegal.

"It means the issues have not been resolved, and that's truly unfortunate. But if I had to do it over again, I'd do it over again," she said.

Creek sued last year after a June 28, 1995, special election in which Gerald Stansbury defeated her, 245-243.

The special election was called by officials at the national headquarters of the NAACP in Baltimore after Stansbury challenged Creek's 11-vote win to another two-year term in the regular Nov. 16, 1994, election.

In arguments last week, Creek's lawyers told Lerner that the special election process was so seriously flawed that its results were unreliable.

Richard Kovelant, Creek's lawyer, said 87 ballots were challenged by NAACP officials because they were cast by voters whose names did not appear on membership rolls and who had no proof of membership when they showed up to vote.

Eight of those 87 challenged ballots were later discounted, he said.

Kovelant also said another 10 to 15 would-be voters went home without voting after NAACP officials announced on election night that they would not accept ballots without proof of membership -- either a membership card or a canceled check indicating that they had paid the $10 annual dues.

But other voters were allowed to cast ballots later that night as long as they could come up with proof of membership within 72 hours, Kovelant said.

"What happened in this case is that the rules were changed in midstream," Kovelant said.

But Jack Merritt, a lawyer for the NAACP, said the special election results were certified as reliable by Baltimore NAACP officials, who reviewed the process and had no stake in the outcome.

"I have every confidence in the world that it was a valid election," Merritt said.

Pub Date: 6/19/96

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