U.S. District Judge Wilma Lewis’ temporary restraining order directing Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes to place Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen’s name on the ballot was still in effect as of noon Monday, contrary to widespread rumors of the opposite.
The Source broke the news Friday of Lewis’ order on Friday (See Related Links below) that says, in part: "It is hereby … ORDERED that Defendants are directed to place Senator Alicia “Chucky” Hansen’s name on the ballot for the upcoming November 4, 2014 general election … ." (See the Temorary Restraining Order here) The defendants are Fawkes and the V.I. Joint Boards of Election.
A St. Croix blog reported that Lewis dissolved the TRO as of 10:30 Saturday night. A screen capture taken of the online federal court document portal, where all federal court filings are posted, shows that no such order has been published. U.S. District Court officials confirmed that no such document was sitting in their offices awaiting publication.
"There is nothing showing on PACER because nothing was filed," said an official in the clerk’s office who asked not to be named in the press. The Source looked at the case docket at the courthouse and saw that no order had been filed in the case since Friday’s TRO directing Fawkes to place Hansen back on the ballot.
The St. Croix Board of Elections is holding an "emergency meeting" at 5:30 p.m. Monday. Board Chairman Adelbert Bryan was a plaintiff in the lawsuit that led to the late August V.I. Supreme Court ruling that Hansen’s three convictions for willful failure to file income tax constituted "moral turpitude," rendering her ineligible to serve. (See Related Links below.) Gov. John deJongh Jr. then pardoned Hansen, saying her candidacy should be judged by the voters.
DeJongh also petitioned the V.I. Supreme Court to rehear the case. The Supreme Court announced over the weekend that it would not rehear the case.
Hansen herself and a group of St. Croix voters separately brought suit to have Hansen returned to the ballot. Fawkes said she followed a court order to take Hansen off the ballot and would therefore need a court order to place her back on. On Friday, Lewis ordered Fawkes to put Hansen back on the ballot.
As of noon, Monday, Lewis had not responded to an email asking if she intended to dissolve Friday’s TRO. Judges rarely respond to journalist’s questions about cases. But as of noon Monday, the court had not issued an order dissolving the TRO, and so it remained in effect. The screen capture of the PACER website taken at 12:15 p.m. shows that the most recent filing in the case took place Friday, and the most recent order in the case was the TRO issued Friday.
Meanwhile, military and overseas ballots went to the printer Friday, with Hansen’s name on them, and so long as Lewis’ order is in effect, Fawkes said she would put Hansen’s name on the ballot.
"The court order came down Friday and the joint boards chair said to go ahead, so the ballots went to the printer Friday," Fawkes said Monday afternoon. "But this really only affects a handful of absentee and military ballots," she said. Most of the ballots will be going to the printer in October, "so if the verdict changes, we will change it," Fawkes said. But as of Monday afternoon, she was following the court’s order from Friday and there had been no new order, she said.
Fawkes was on St. Thomas with staff and said she did not plan to be at the St. Croix meeting Monday evening but that a deputy would be present.