Each election season is sure to bring a slew of new mandamus opinions as decisions of our election officials are challenged. That’s what happened in In re Cercone.
Albert Cercone, who is the Republican Party nominee for Dallas County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3, Place 1, filed a petition for writ of mandamus to challenge the possible certification and placement of Democratic candidate Joseph Ramirez Miller on the ballot.
Under the facts of the case, it appears that the original Democratic candidate for that position was declared "ineligible" by Darlene Ewing as Chair of the Dallas County Democratic Party. As a result, Ewing certified Miller as the replacement candidate and reported the certification to Bruce Sherbet, the elections administrator for Dallas County.
Upon review of the Election Code, the Dallas Court of Appeals held that the declaration of ineligibility did not rest upon valid grounds because a deficiency in the number of signatures required to put a name on the ballot is a deficiency in the application for office, not a deficiency in eligibility of the applicant. Notably, however, the Court did not issue a writ of mandamus against either Ewing or Sherbet. To obtain mandamus relief, Cercone was required to show that he first demanded that Ewing perform her duty not to declare the initial candidate ineligible. Cercone did not do so. The Court also declined to grant mandamus relief against Sherbet because Sherbet had no duty to inquire into the validity of the certification of Miller.
The court’s opinion may be found here.