Supreme Court Justice files suit against political challenger

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The race for a position on the State Supreme Court turns nasty.

Incumbent Supreme Court Justice, Tom Parker, is suing one of his opponents in the June 1st primary.

"Mr. Johnston should have given the Republican party his qualifying fee, his Declaration of Candidacy and his Statement of Economic Interest form all at the same time," says Parker's attorney, Al Agricola.

He says the reason behind the lawsuit is clear.

"For failing to file certain required documents on time."

Agricola says his client, Justice Parker, believes his opponent in the June primary--Eric Johnston--didn't follow proper procedures to become a candidate.

Agricola says state law requires candidates to file two forms at the same time in order to qualify--an ethics form and form declaring their candidacy.

"Mr. Johnston's candidacy was announced by filing with the Republican party on April 1st. His Statement of Economic Interest form was not filed with the Ethics Commission until April 7th."

Johnston's attorney, Robert Huffaker, says the forms were delayed.

"He delivered the papers to FedEx and the FedEx plane out of Birmingham got [sent] to Alaska or somewhere," says Huffaker.

But he doesn't believe not filing them at the same time will be enough to kick his client out of the race, since he says the courts have addressed this before.

"They have drawn the distinction between a candidate who doesn't file a report at all and they say that candidate should be disqualified versus a candidate who files a report but is late...and in that instance the courts have said you don't disqualify them."

Still Agricola's looking to the law.

"The name of the person should not appear on the ballot."

But Huffaker says that "will create total chaos in the election process."

Absentee ballots have already been sent out with Johnston's name on them.

Both sides are pushing for a quick hearing, hoping to go to court sometime next week.

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