Doone alleges, " the commission and the court are very much afraid of taking this election challenge on the merits."

July 08, 2009

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

Weno, Chuuk - Gillian Doone and Ritis Heldart, former candidates for Chuuk State Governor have filed a complaint (04-2009) in the Chuuk State Supreme Court alleging a multitude of improprieties and outright illegalities in the recently completed Chuuk State Gubernatorial race. It is the third notice of appeal. Appellees are the Chuuk State Election Commission. The Real Party of Interest is listed as Wesley Simina and Johnson Elimo. Johnson and Elimo took their oaths of office on April 14 after a runoff election was held in Honolulu. Their public inauguration was held on Thursday, July 2.

The appellants Doone and Heldart are being represented by Gideon K. Doone.

The issues now before the Appellate Court of the Chuuk State Supreme Court are limited to the precincts of Huchua, Elin- Penienuk of Tonoas Municipality as well as the precinct of Nukaf, Pata Municipality. Doone claims that election irregularities were found that "would very well change the results of the runoff election in favor of the petitioners.

The claim states in a matter of fact way, "Petitioners would have been declared winners of the runoff election if illegal votes were not cast on behalf of Wesley Simina and Johnson Elimo."

It alleges that the Chuuk State Election Commission issued an undated certification of results of the April 9 runoff election and Simina and Elimo took their oaths of office on April 14 by virtue of the undated certification of election results, which effectively barred the Doone and Heldart from challenging the results of the election.

Just the same the appellants filed an election challenge with the Election Commission on April 17 which that body dismissed.

Doone and Heldart appealed the commission's decision to the Apellant Division of the Chuuk State Supreme Court on April 27. The Attorney General of Chuuk State, on behalf of the election commission filed a motion to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. That motion was rejected by the court on May 1 and it remanded the election complaints back to the commission for investigation and appropriate action on the merits of the election complaints.

On May 13 Doone and Heldart filed a 2nd notice of appeal challenging the "total inactivity of the Chuuk State Election Commission."

It was on May 19 that the Court, on its own motion admitted the real party in interest to be made another party in the lawsuit.

The Appellate Court dismissed a Doone motion opposing the appearance of Mr. Johnny Meippen as counsel for Simina and Elimo due to a conflict of interest.

On May 24 the Appellate Court remanded the appeal back to the Election Commission for further deliberation after it ruled that the second notice of appeal was premature as administrative remedies had not been fully exhausted. Doone claimed that the Commission was required by law to meet within three days which it had not done and their inaction should have been recorded as a dismissal of the contest.

Doone, in the brief that accompanied the third notice of appeal further said that the commission and it attorney of record should be charged with perjury "as it deliberately and erroneously informed the court that the commission met on May 4, 2009, and (that) it systematically scheduled its work on the election contest. Truthfully, however, the commission's meeting was postponed until May 12 for lack of a quorum on May 4." Not enough commissioners showed up for a meeting on the issue.

On May 29 the Election Commission issued a notice inviting Doone and Meippen to file written briefs on behalf of their clients limited to the issue of whether the election contest was filed in a timely manner.

Doone submitted his clients' brief on June 4 contending that its petition of April 17 was filed in a timely manner. On June 5 a hearing that lasted 30 minutes was held in the Governor's conference room. No witnesses were deposed and no questions were asked except for the arguments presented by both Doone and Meippen on behalf of their clients.

On June 8 the election commission issued yet another denial of the Doone and Heldart's election contest asserting that the petition was not filed in a timely manner. They based their assertion on Section 127 of the Chuuk State Election law.

Gideon Doone said in his filing on behalf of his son and his running mate that it has been rumored that there were four different types of official ballots used in the runoff election including one that was an obvious "Xerox" copy. He says that the use of different ballots makes it easy to deduce that the election was "rigged." Since the margin of victory was so small (less than 1%) he is requesting a recount.

They are asking as remedies for the court to void respective illegal votes from the following precincts that were awarded to Simina and Elimo: Kuchua Election Precinct-127 votes; Elin-Penienu Election Precinct-9 votes; Wonip, Udot Election Precinct - 2 votes for a total of 138 votes.

Doone is asking the court to declare Doone and Heldart to be the winners of the runoff election and to annul prior certificates issued to Wesley Simina and Johnson Elimo.

Finally, Doone and Heldart are asking that a special prosecutor "to investigate and prosecute in accordance with law all those individuals who were involved in bribery and in any other violation of CSL No. 3-96-26."

Doone submitted a legal brief arguing the merits of his clients' case including a detailed legal analysis of why the written filing of the complaint should not be held by the Court to have been filed too late under the law that requires a time limit of five days. The Court will be ruling on this and many other matters.

Doone said "The public interest does demand a careful review of alleged violations of human rights, alleged violations of our own Constitution (Chuuk State) which threatens the very foundation of democracy and violation of our own Election Statute."

Gideon Doone said that at no time have the merits, the real purpose of the election challenge been dealt with neither by the Election Commissioners nor by the court. He said that "from April 17 through June 8, 2009, no meaningful action whatsoever was ever taken by anyone on the merits of the case. The only action taken to date has been (for) dismissal for lack of jurisdiction."

Doone claimed that because Justices Noket and Aisek were nominated to their present positions by the incumbent Governor they have a conflict of interest. Each of the election commissioners owes their positions to the incumbent Governor and even the opposing attorney owes his job to the incumbent Governor. He said that these factors are a clear conflict of interest. "One definite show of conflicts of interest is seen by the reluctance of both the commission and the court to even tab the real purpose of the election challenge: illegal votes, denial of people's right to vote, interference with voters in the pre-casting of votes-all these do threaten the very foundation of democracy. In essence, the commission and the court are very much afraid of taking this election challenge on the merits."