State Supreme Court Justices ruled on two Buffalo School Board petition challenges Wednesday. WBFO's Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley was in the courtrooms for the day-long proceedings.
After a two-day hearing State Supreme Court Justice James Dillion ruled incumbent North District School Board member Jay McCarthy did not commit election fraud. But Justice Dillion noted there 'have been significant improprieties' with some of the petition signatures, however, he could not find fraud as alleged by opponent Hope Jay.
McCarthy’s Attorney Jeffrey Bochiechio tells WBFO News they're pleased with the ruling
“I’m happy to see that it was clear and unequivocal that there was no fraud in his petitions. That any alleged errors, where simply that, errors by the actually signers themselves as opposed to fraud by the petition passers and especially Mr. McCarthy,” stated Bochiechio.
In question, a husband and wife team who circulated the petitions, allegedly instructing some residents that it was okay to sign on behalf of a family member.
Testimony revealed three citizens signed the McCarthy petitions on behalf of their spouses. Justice Dillion did rule seven signatures were invalid, leaving McCarthy with 503-valid signatures. Candidates need 500 to appear on Tuesday's ballot.
Hope Jay's Attorney Sean Cooney tells us they respect the ruling, but noted the court did find some signatures were collected in error.
“What I really find interesting, throughout the week, being involved with the different objection cases, is that what’s apparent to me is that the majority of the school board, the current majority and their allies, had a lot of difficulty finding 500 people in their neighborhood that support their agenda and a lot of the other candidates had no difficulty getting over 1,000 signatures that were not even challenged,” said Cooney.
Earlier in the day at a separate hearing State Supreme Court Justice John Michalek ruled nine petition signatures of School Board President James Sampson were invalid keeping Sampson off the ballot. It's not clear if he will appeal. The attorney for Sampson’s opponent, Jennifer Mecozzi, told the court she decided to drop her portion of allegations of petition fraud against Sampson following the judge’s ruling. Sampson’s attorney declined comment to WBFO.