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Alexandria-Williams v. Goins

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

June 26, 2018

M. LATROY ALEXANDRIA-WILLIAMS
v.
MARK GOINS ET AL.

          Appeal from the Chancery Court for Shelby County No. CH-18-0571 Walter L. Evans, Chancellor

         This is an extraordinary appeal, filed pursuant to Rule 10 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, seeking review of an injunction entered with respect to the August 2, 2018 Democratic primary ballot for Tennessee's Ninth Congressional District election. For the reasons stated herein, we conclude that an extraordinary appeal should be granted and that the trial court's injunction should be vacated.[1]

         Tenn. R. App. P. 10 Extraordinary Appeal; Judgment of the of the Chancery Court Vacated and Remanded

          J. Gerard Stranch IV, Benjamin Gastel, and Seamus T. Kelly, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mary Mancini.

          J. B. Smiley, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, M. La-Troy Alexandria-Williams.

          Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; and Janet M. Kleinfelter, Deputy Attorney General, for the appellee, Mark K. Goins.

          John Ryder and Pablo A. Varela, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Linda Phillips and Shelby County Election Commission.

          Arnold B. Goldin, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Brandon O. Gibson and Kenny Armstrong, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ARNOLD B. GOLDIN, JUDGE

         BACKGROUND

         This appeal stems from the efforts of M. La-Troy Alexandria-Williams ("Mr. Williams") to appear as a candidate on the August 2018 Democratic primary ballot for Tennessee's Ninth Congressional District. Although he filed a nominating petition for his candidacy in February 2018, Mr. Williams learned in April 2018 that he had been disqualified as a candidate pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 2-5-204. Tennessee Code Annotated section 2-5-204 provides that a candidate's name shall not be placed on the ballot when, among other things, "the executive committee with which a primary candidate filed the original petition determinates that the candidate is not qualified under § 2-13-104." In this case, Mary Mancini ("Ms. Mancini"), the chairperson for the Tennessee Democratic Party, submitted disqualification notices regarding Mr. Williams' candidacy on April 11, 2018.[2]

         The present litigation soon followed when Mr. Williams filed a complaint for injunctive relief in the Shelby County Chancery Court on April 17, 2018. In his "Second Amended Complaint," which was filed on May 25, 2018, Mr. Williams prayed that his name be placed on the August Democratic ballot and that an injunction be issued barring his decertification as a candidate. Named as Defendants were Mark Goins, the State Coordinator of Elections; Ms. Mancini; the "Shelby County Election Commissioner"; and Linda Phillips, the Administrator of Elections in Shelby County.

         Motions to dismiss were filed by the Defendants, and on May 31, 2018, the trial court held a hearing on the motions. However, rather than rule on the motions to dismiss, those matters, along with others, were reserved for further adjudication. Specifically, on June 5, 2018, the trial court entered an order stating in pertinent part as follows:

1. An injunction is immediately in effect in this cause requiring that Defendants Mark Goins, Linda Phillips, and the Shelby County Election Commission certify and place M. La-Troy Alexandria-Williams name on the ballot as a candidate in the Democratic Primary on August 02, 2018 for the office of ...

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