Yet another judge assigned in recall suit

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to add the date and time for oral arguments to be heard.

Yet another judge, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Erin Marston, has been appointed in a lawsuit by three Homer City Council members seeking to stop a June 13 recall election against them. Marston set oral arguments to be heard at 10 a.m. Monday, May 22, at the Anchorage Courthouse.

On behalf of plaintiffs Donna Aderhold, David Lewis and Catriona Reynolds, lawyers Eric Glatt and Joshua Decker with the American Civil Liberties Union Alaska on May 9 challenged the most recent judge assigned to the case, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Andrew Guidi. Guidi had been assigned earlier to the lawsuit after the pro-recall group, Heartbeat of Homer, was granted intervenor status by Judge Frank Pfiffner, and its lawyer, Stacey Stoney, filed a peremptory challenge against Pfiffner. The case was then assigned to Guidi.

Casey Reynolds, a spokesperson for ACLU Alaska, declined to comment on why the plaintiffs challenged Guidi. The city of Homer challenged the first judge assigned, Superior Court Judge Pamela Washington. With each party now having filed peremptory challenges, that means the case will remain with Marston.

Marston received the case file this week. Both sides agreed in April on a filing asking for an expedited hearing schedule. With no decision yet made, the city will proceed with the June 13 election. By today, May 18, it has to issue a notice 20 days in advance of the election. It also has to print election ballots soon. The deadline to register to vote in the recall election was May 14.

Council members Aderhold, Lewis and Reynolds, the officials targeted in the recall, filed a suit in April seeking to have the recall election stopped. With assistance from the ACLU Alaska, the plaintiffs allege that the grounds for the recall are insufficient. The recall organizers cited the council members’ support for two controversial resolutions as a reason for the recall. Aderhold, Lewis and Reynolds said those grounds violate their constitutional right to free speech.