LACHES BARS MANDAMUS IN ELECTION CASE

In re Martin
Dallas Court of Appeals, No. 05-18-00542-CV (May 10, 2018)
Francis, Evans (Opinion, available here), and Schenck
Christopher Martin and Tina Marie High Brumbelow are candidates in a run-off election for the office of district judge in Van Zandt County. A week before early voting was to begin, Martin sought a writ of mandamus ordering the Van Zandt County Republican Party Chair to declare Brumbelow ineligible to be a candidate in the run-off. Martin contended Brumbelow was not registered to vote in the district for six months prior to the election filing deadline as required by the Election Code. The Dallas Court of Appeals denied the petition, finding it was barred by laches. Mandamus is largely controlled by equitable principles, one of which is that “equity aids the diligent and not those who slumber on their rights.” The Court noted that Martin challenged Brumbelow’s eligibility almost two months after the primary election and less than a week before early voting in the run-off began and that Martin failed to explain why he did not challenge Brumbelow’s eligibility sooner. The timing of Martin’s petition effectively deprived Brumbelow of any opportunity to meaningfully respond, to marshal responsive facts and law, and to obtain counsel to defend the allegations before the early voting deadline. So, the Court concluded that Martin’s complaint was barred by laches. The Court also found that Martin failed to conclusively establish Brumbelow’s ineligibility and so did not establish that the Republican Party violated a “duty imposed by law” in refusing to declare her ineligible.

Print