The fourth time is a charm.
Anchorage Superior Court Judge Erin Marston is the fourth judge appointed to hear a case brought by three Homer City Council members and the American Civil Liberties Union against the City of Homer.
The lawsuit brought by the three and their ACLU lawyers claims the grounds for a recall election that targets them are invalid, and that their free speech rights are being violated.
The recall organizers, Heartbeat of Homer, say that it’s not the speech of the three that is the issue, but their official actions, as documented in a series of emails between them.
The first three judges were challenged by different parties in the case, whose oral arguments will be heard at 10 a.m. Monday, at the Anchorage Courthouse.
Donna Aderhold, David Lewis and Catriona Reynolds are trying to stop the special recall election, which is set for June 13. Much of the past three weeks has been tied up in finding a judge all parties could agree on.
The case was first assigned to Superior Court Judge Pamela Washington, but the City of Homer challenged the assignment.
Judge Frank Pfiffner was assigned next, but his name was challenged by Stacey Stone, the lawyer representing the citizens who filed the recall petition.
The court then appointed Judge Andrew Guidi, but he was challenged by the ACLU.
Now that each party in the case has had a chance to challenge one judge, the fourth judge, Erin Marston, will keep the case.
The City’s notice for the special election was posted Thursday as required by law. Sample ballots will be printed and available by May 30, unless the judge agrees with the ACLU and its clients.
Heartbeat of Homer has extensive email records that show how three members of the council worked behind the scenes to make Homer a sanctuary city, where illegal immigrants could find safe haven. The resolution they worked on, in its early draft, claimed that President Trump was not legitimately elected, because he does not have “a popular mandate.”