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Randle v. Ivy

Supreme Court of Mississippi

January 31, 2019

WILLIAM RANDLE, JR. a/k/a BOOMAN AND THE DEMOCRATIC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE CITY OF OKOLONA, MISSISSIPPI
v.
TOMMIE JAMES IVY, SR.

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/17/2017

          CHICKASAW COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. BARRY W. FORD TRIAL JUDGE:

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: GARY STREET GOODWIN WALTER HOWARD ZINN, JR.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: WALTER HOWARD ZINN, JR.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: GARY STREET GOODWIN

          BEFORE WALLER, C.J., CHAMBERLIN AND ISHEE, JJ.

          CHAMBERLIN, JUSTICE

         ¶1. Tommie James Ivy Sr. filed an election contest against William Randle Jr. and the Democratic Executive Committee of the City of Okolona following the primary election of the Democratic nominee for the office of city marshall. The special tribunal rendered a judgment in favor of Ivy, ordered a special election and excluded Randle from the special election. Randle appealed, and Ivy cross-appealed. The Court holds that the special tribunal properly determined that a special election was required but improperly held that Randle was excluded from being a candidate. Therefore, the Court affirms in part, reverses in part and remands. Further, the cross-appeal is dismissed.

         FACTS

         ¶2. On May 2, 2017, a primary election for the Democratic nominee was held between three candidates for the office of city marshall of the City of Okolona, Mississippi. William Randle Jr. and Tommie James Ivy Sr. received the highest number of votes, requiring a runoff election. A primary runoff election was held on May 16, 2017. The result was very close. Randle was certified the winner with 522 votes. Ivy received 521 votes.

         ¶3. Ivy filed a Petition to Contest the Election under Mississippi Code Section 23-15-921 (Rev. 2018). The Democratic Executive Committee of the City of Okolona held a hearing, denied relief to Ivy and dismissed the petition. Ivy filed a Petition for Judicial Review of the Election Contest. A special judge was appointed.

         ¶4. In the meantime, Randle proceeded to the general election. He ran against an independent candidate, Tommie James Ivy Jr., and won. He held the office of city marshall at the time of the special tribunal's hearing and judgment.

         ¶5. At the hearing before the special tribunal, Ivy questioned the legality of eleven affidavit ballots from five different wards. After testimony from the people who placed the questioned votes, the special tribunal determined that nine votes were illegal and two were legal. With the new vote totals, the special tribunal found from the bench that Ivy had received 518 votes and Randle had received 516 votes. Further, the special tribunal stated that no fraud or "an intention to do anything to determine the outcome of [the] race" existed and that a special election should be held. In a subsequent written judgment, the special tribunal provided,

Pursuant to ยง 23-15-937 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, as amended, a special election is required to be conducted by the City of Okolona, in which Tommie James Ivy, Sr. shall be designated on the ballot as the Democratic party nominee and Tommie James Ivy, Jr. shall be ...

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