The Times Picayune discovered that the judge who approved the move to lower the signatures needed for the New Orleans mayor recall by 5,000 names has also signed the petition herself.
Judge Jennifer Medley’s name appearing on the list has sparked controversy, with many saying that she should have removed herself from the lawsuit. Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s legal team has since announed that they will be discussing changes to their legal strategy moving forward.
According to records so far only provided to the newspaper, Judge Medley signed the petition last December before signing off on an agreement on March 1 to lower the threshold of signatures needed to trigger a recall election.
The agreement settled a lawsuit brought by recall organizers against Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters Sandra Wilson and Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin. The suit alleged that numerous errors had left the number of registered and active voters on New Orleans’ rolls artificially high. For a recall election on the mayor to be triggered, organizers must have collected signatures from 20 percent of the city’s eligible electors.
“If you have a judge who is adjudicating a matter involving the recall election and that judge has in fact signed the petition for recall, that judge has indicated that their interests are coincidence with one of the parties of this case, which are the recall organizers,” Tulane Law Professor Emeritus Joel Friedman told Fox 8.
Debate has arisen over whether Medley was right or wrong in her choice to remain a part of the lawsuit that lowered the signatures needed. Regardless, Medley’s decision to lower the required signature count on the grounds of voters who have moved or died not being included is still a reasonable decision. The move places the petition in the hands of current citizens, who should be the deciding factor.