Judge Denies Reggie Fullwood's Bid to Qualify for House Race

By: Margie Menzel News Service of Florida | Posted: August 25, 2014 3:55 AM
Reggie Fullwood

Reggie Fullwood

A Leon County circuit judge Friday rejected arguments by state Rep. Reggie Fullwood, D-Jacksonville, that he should have been allowed to qualify for the 2014 elections.

The Department of State prevented Fullwood from qualifying due to back-to-back errors by notaries public.

Leon County Circuit Judge James Hankinson ruled that the errors were enough to prevent Fullwood from qualifying.

"No judge ever wants to keep a candidate off the ballot," Hankinson said. "But the Legislature has consistently signaled a desire to have these statutes strictly construed."

Fullwood had been running unopposed in House District 13 this year. The judge's decision means the state will have to call a special election, and Fullwood said he doesn't know if anyone will challenge him in the new race.

"I'm not sure, because qualifying hasn't opened up," he said after the hearing. "There's rumors that folks will run, but I guess you don't know until they actually up and qualify."

The dispute stems from Fullwood submitting a form to elections officials on June 19 that did not have a notary's required signature. After being told of the error, he submitted a revised form the next day -- the final day of qualifying for this year's elections -- but a second notary failed to make a required checkmark on part of the form.

Fullwood filed the lawsuit against Secretary of State Ken Detzner on July 29 in Leon County circuit court, focusing on the error involving the lack of a signature and contending that the state's decision not to allow him to qualify was improper.

Attorney Neil Henrichsen, chairman of the Duval County Democratic Party, represented Fullwood. He argued Friday that the notary had printed her name on the qualifying document, showing that the candidate had complied with the spirit of the law.

"The (form) was properly verified … in that he appeared before the notary and took the oath," Henrichsen said. "The trustworthiness of the document is not at issue."

Fullwood had submitted most of his required documents the day before the qualifying period ended, including a check for his fee of $1,781.82.

But Ashley Davis, an attorney for Detzner, said the secretary "didn't have the luxury" of accepting the incomplete qualifying paperwork.

"It's unlikely that a consistent interpretation of how much noncompliance can be tolerated can be predictably applied from one filing officer to another, let alone one candidate to another," Davis argued. "A legal regime where 'close enough' is the standard just would inevitably lead to allegations, in this highly charged political environment, of favoritism and impossible line-drawing regarding various levels of noncompliance."

After the hearing, Fullwood said he still thought the special elections were a waste of taxpayer money. "But a judge obviously ruled differently," he said

Tags: News, Politics

Comments (1)

Patricia Lavins
11:51AM AUG 26TH 2014
The people of Florida should be grateful that the Division of Elections is even handed in making its decisions about qualifying to be on a Florida ballot. In the 8th Congressional District on May 2nd the determination was made that Corry "Fraudster" Westbrook was "not qualified." In doing so the decision protected the integrity of the Indian River Democrat Party which had a small contigent supporting Corry "Fraudster" Westbrook. She was attempting to be the first legal resident of Washington, D. C. to have her name on a Florida ballot. Even today she has not accepted this official ruling. She still has a campaign Facebook page and she is still pretending to be a candidate.

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