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Secretary Of State Asks For Dismissal From Judge’s Petition

LITTLE ROCK — Secretary of State Mark Martin asked Wednesday to be dismissed from a Faulkner County circuit judge’s petition seeking a declaration by the state Supreme Court that the judge is eligible to serve.

Judge H.G. Foster, a Division 1 judge who is seeking the Division 5 seat on the Faulkner County Circuit Court, filed the petition after his opponent in the race, Doralee Chandler, filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court challenging Foster’s qualifications.

Martin, named as a defendant in Foster’s petition, argued in a response Wednesday that he should be dismissed because the issues in question are not under his authority.

“Respondent secretary states that he is the chief election official in this state, but that he has neither authority nor jurisdiction to consider, evaluate or decide issues concerning the licensing of attorneys nor the qualifications of any candidate for the nonpartisan general election scheduled for May 20, 2014,” Martin argued in the filing.

Martin also said ballots for the May 20 election have already been printed and that absentee ballots have already been delivered to military and overseas voters to meet the ballot delivery deadline of last Friday. He asked the court to expedite consideration of the case.

Martin said in the filing he had no objection to a motion by Chandler to intervene in the case.

Also named as a defendant is Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who said in a response Monday that the Supreme Court should reject Chandler’s claim that Foster is ineligible to serve as a circuit judge because of past administrative suspensions for failure to pay license fees on time.

Special appointed judge John Cole ruled March 19 that Valerie Thompson Bailey was not eligible to challenge Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox’s re-election bid because of a past administrative suspension. Bailey argued that she had let her license lapse voluntarily for a few years while raising children and living out of state, but Cole said in his ruling that the reason for the suspension did not matter.

Challenges soon followed to the qualifications of other judicial candidates with past suspensions, including Foster, Fox and Angela Byrd, a candidate for the Division 4 seat on the Faulkner County Circuit Court.

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