- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 2, 2006

Maryland’s highest court ruled yesterday that attorney general candidate Douglas F. Gansler will remain on the ballot for the election Tuesday because the challenge to his eligibility was filed too late.

The seven Maryland Court of Appeals judges heard the case as an appeal to a decision last Friday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court that stated Mr. Gansler had fulfilled a constitutional requirement that such candidates must practice law in the state for 10 years.

The judges also ordered the circuit court to dismiss the case but did not say whether Mr. Gansler had met the constitutional requirement.

Mr. Gansler, 44, has said he was admitted to the Maryland State Bar Association 17 years ago and was elected as Montgomery County state’s attorney eight years ago.

“I’ve practiced [law] every single second since,” he said after the hourlong hearing yesterday. “I’m happy to put my qualifications up.”

Mr. Gansler’s qualifications were questioned by Bowie resident Nikos S. Liddy, who filed the lawsuit in the Anne Arundel court.

Mr. Liddy had testified that information on Mr. Gansler’s Web site indicates he did not practice law in Maryland until he became state’s attorney, two years shy of the 10-year requirement.

Mr. Liddy’s attorney, Jason W. Shoemaker, said Mr. Gansler always lived in Maryland but he was a federal prosecutor and practiced law in D.C. offices before becoming Montgomery County’s top prosecutor.

Mr. Shoemaker also is the campaign manager for Scott L. Rolle, the Republican candidate for attorney general.

Mr. Gansler’s attorney, Carmen M. Shephard, acknowledged that her client worked in D.C. offices but said Mr. Gansler was a member of the state bar and was practicing law as required by Maryland.

The judges made their decision in the late afternoon but appeared to agree during the hearing that it was too late to remove Mr. Gansler’s name from ballots for 3 million registered Maryland voters.

“It’s practically impossible,” said Judge Dale R. Cathell. “There’s no way possible in the world that we can get his name off the ballots.”

Assistant Attorney General William F. Brockman said 61,889 absentee voters had cast their ballots, with five days remaining until the election.

However, Judge Lynne A. Battaglia said, “Eligibility is the issue and has to be dealt with.”

Polls indicate Mr. Gansler leads Mr. Rolle, the Frederick County state’s attorney for 12 years.

A Baltimore Sun poll in September showed Mr. Gansler had a 28-point lead over Mr. Rolle, 45.

The appeals court declared Democratic candidate Thomas E. Perez ineligible about three weeks before the September primary because he did not fulfill state requirements for attorney general candidates.

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