Christopher A. Kenney Successfully Defends Congressional Candidate

October 26, 2020 03:18 PM
Christopher A. Kenney

IADC member Chris Kenney, a partner at Kenney & Sams, P.C. in Boston MA, successfully defended Helen Brady, a Republican congressional candidate at trial and on appeal against a political challenge to her ballot access for the primary election.

In a case of first impression driven by COVID and emergency “stay at home orders,” the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) permitted congressional candidates to obtain electronic signatures (as opposed to traditional in-person “ink” signatures) on nomination sheets for access to the primary election ballot.

The client, a Republican candidate for the Ninth Congressional District, was challenged by the state Democratic Party on the bases that her electronic signatures were allegedly defective or fraudulent, or were collected without following the electronic process approved by the court. Given the pandemic and impending election, the dispute was placed on a “rocket docket“ for expeditious adjudication.            

The State Ballot Law Commission (“SBLC”) set trial on 11 days’ notice. The trial was held in person before a five person “jury“ of commissioners. Kenney focused his arguments on equity and equal protection grounds.

The commission ruled in favor of the Democratic Party. Kenney then immediately appealed. The SJC scheduled appellate brief to be filed within ten days and set oral arguments the very next day after briefs were filed. Oral arguments were conducted telephonically to the full bench. The SJC ruled three days later on June 13 reversed the SBLC, and ordered that the primary election ballots be printed with our candidates name on them the next day, June 14, just in time for the primary election.

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