In a decision issued on July 19, 2022, the Appeals Court dismissed an appeal by the plaintiff in the case of Jerry L. Ryan v. City of Salem, affirming the ruling in favor of the City of Salem and its election officials following a weeks-long trial over the November, 2019 election for Salem Ward 6 City Councilor.
The Plaintiff lost the November 5, 2019 election by a single vote, which was confirmed by a hand recount on November 25, 2019. Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit in Superior Court challenging the City’s election procedures seeking to overturn the election results. After a lengthy Superior Court trial that included nine days of witness testimony, over 100 exhibits and numerous motions and legal arguments, the judge ultimately entered judgment for the City of Salem, the Board of Registrars, and the City Clerk on all of the plaintiff’s claims.
After the trial, the plaintiff sought relief with a single justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which rejected his petition, and then appealed the decision to the Appeals Court. In both instances, KP Law Attorneys Lauren F. Goldberg, Gregg J. Corbo, and Devan C. Braun successfully defended all allegations against the City.
The Appeals Court held that the matter was moot – the election was finished, the results were certified, the city councilor’s term had concluded, the plaintiff did not participate in the next election, and a new term had commenced. Because courts “decide only actual controversies … and normally do not decide moot cases,” the Appeals Court declined the plaintiff’s request to retroactively void the results of the election.
The Court, however, went on to explain that even if the claims were not moot, the plaintiff did not have standing to “vindicate the constitutional rights of some third party” voter, who the plaintiff alleged was wrongfully denied a ballot under the City’s rule requiring that individuals who had not registered to vote in person and had never voted at their address before to provide proof of residency before voting for the first time. The Court also declined to address the claims that the City improperly processed absentee and mail-in ballots.
KP Law is pleased to have secured another important victory for the City of Salem! Please join us in congratulating the City, the Board of Registrars, and the City Clerk’s Office for the hard work and dedication that they have shown in defending the integrity and inclusivity of our democratic elections.