Mt. Vernon Register-News

October 27, 2012

Judge orders results to be suppressed

Election results for Second Judicial Circuit Judge to be suppressed until ruling on contest

By RORYE O’CONNOR
rorye.oconnor@register-news.com

MT. VERNON — — A judge has ordered election results to be suppressed until the ruling on the election contest between Second Judicial Circuit Judge candidates Eric Dirnbeck and Kent Renshaw.

First Judicial Circuit Associate Judge John Spuroni on Tuesday, Oct. 23 made a ruling suppressing the election results until the ruling, said Courtney Cox, Dirnbeck’s attorney.

Court documents from the Oct. 23 order state it is impossible to determine on a reasonable basis when any final resolution of the case may take place.

“It is unlikely that this cause can be resolved prior to the Nov. 6, 2012, general election, and even if it were to be finally resolved in (Renshaw’s) favor prior to that date his name could not appear on the ballot,” court documents state. “There is no Republican candidate for the Circuit Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit, Vantrease vacancy, so that when the court determines the Democratic nominee for said vacancy such nominee shall, effectively, be elected.”

The state board of elections finalized the candidates on the ballot on Aug. 24, court documents state, and Dirnbeck will be listed as the only candidate for election for circuit judge of the Second Judicial Circuit.

“It is quite likely that this cause will not be concluded by the time of the general election on Nov. 6,” court documents state. “To avoid prejudice to any rights of (Renshaw) regarding this contest the court should enter an order suppressing the results of the Nov. 6, 2012, general election as it relates to the office of the Circuit Judge for the Second Judicial Circuit, Vantrease vacancy, and direct that any results obtained therefrom should be withheld and suppressed so that no winner is declared and no person shall assume such office until such time as a final judgment is entered related to all issues in this cause.”

The court ordered the State Board of Elections not to certify a winner or release any vote totals in the election until a further court order.

The election was held March 20 for the position of circuit judge for the purpose of filling the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge E. Kyle Vantrease.

Dirnbeck was the apparent winner of the 12-county election with 4,063 votes, according to election results. Dirnbeck was certified as having obtained 42 more votes than Renshaw circuit-wide, court documents state.

Renshaw filed his petition on April 30, and a discovery recount of votes in Franklin County was held May 3, court documents state; Renshaw later filed a motion to amend his original petition for the purpose of including information from the discovery recount.

On May 29, Dirnbeck “filed a special and limited appearance in a number of motions attacking both the original and the amended petitions in this case and seeking to quash service of process” on Renshaw, which the court denied on July 19, information states.

Dirnbeck was ordered to plead to Renshaw’s amended petition on or before July 27, but Dirnbeck did not, filing a motion seeking to certify questions for interlocutory appeal pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 308, court documents state.

On Aug. 4, the court denied Dirnbeck’s motion, but on its own motion, certified two questions and stayed further proceedings pending Appellate Court action on the certified questions.

On Sept. 10, the Appellate Court denied Dirnbeck’s petition for leave to appeal related to the court’s previously certified questions, remanding the matter to the trial court.

On Sept. 25, Dirnbeck filed a motion to reconsider portions of the court’s July 19 ruling with said motion being denied Sept. 26.

The position is for the entire circuit, which comprises Crawford, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jefferson, Lawrence, Richland, Wabash, Wayne and White counties.

As a result, the winner of the election is required to have the majority of votes in all counties covered by the Second Judicial Circuit.

For the circuit judge position, Renshaw came in second among all 12 counties with 4,018 votes; Troy “TJ” Parrish came in third with 3,367; Stephen Swofford came in fourth with 1,631 votes; and Paula Newcomb came in fifth with 1,404 votes.

The results in Franklin County for the circuit judge position were as follows:  Dirnbeck, 2,583; Swofford, 749; Newcomb, 591; Parrish, 395; and Renshaw, 988.

Dirnbeck lives in West Frankfort; Renshaw is a Mt. Vernon resident.