Challenge continued to Gansler candidacy

November 01, 2006|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,sun reporter

The state's highest court will hear the legal challenge to the candidacy qualifications of Democrat Douglas F. Gansler for Maryland attorney general.

On Friday, an Anne Arundel County judge rejected the arguments, made by lawyer Jason W. Shoemaker, that Gansler lacks the required 10 years of legal experience in Maryland.

Shoemaker - representing Nikos S. Liddy of Bowie, who filed the lawsuit - is the campaign manager for Scott L. Rolle, the Republican nominee for attorney general in the Nov. 7 election.

Gansler has been a member of the Maryland bar for 17 years but was a federal prosecutor and in private practice in Washington before he was elected eight years ago as Montgomery County state's attorney.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Ronald A. Silkworth said Gans-ler's other activities, including free legal work for the county NAACP chapter, are considered the practice of law.

"Mr. Rolle has had his day in court," said Vivek Chopra, who is Gansler's campaign manager and on leave from his job as a prosecutor in Gansler's office. "We are confident that the Court of Appeals will affirm this decision and allow us to continue talking about the issues that Marylanders really care about - fighting gangs, cleaning up the bay and combating corporate fraud."

Shoemaker filed an appeal of Silkworth's ruling yesterday.

Rolle, who is lagging behind Gansler in the polls and has been the Frederick County state's attorney for 12 years, has said he had nothing to do with the court case but that it raises an important question that should be resolved.

The same issue ended the candidacy of a Gansler opponent in the Democratic primary, Thomas E. Perez. The University of Maryland law professor and Montgomery County councilman had been a member of the state bar for only five years.

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