In the ongoing saga of petitions and ballot lines in the Yates County District Attorney election, a panel of four New York State Appellate Division Justices in Rochester have unanimously reversed last week’s lower court decision by State Supreme Court Judge John Ark that Todd Casella be on the ballot for the September 12th Republican Primary Election. The panel directed the Yates County Board of Elections to remove the assistant Steuben County District Attorney from the Republican primary ballot. The decision was issued just hours after oral arguments were heard by the court Wednesday.
In its unanimous decision, the court stated,
“It is hereby ORDERED that the order so appealed from is unanimously reversed on the law without costs, the petition is granted, the designating petition is invalidated, and respondent Yates County Board of Elections is directed to remove respondent Todd J. Casella’s name from the ballot as a candidate in the Republican Party primary election for the office of District Attorney of Yates County, to be held on September 12, 2017…
…. we conclude that Supreme Court erred in denying the petition, validating the designating petition, and ordering that the Board place Casella’s name on the ballot as a candidate for the District Attorney of Yates County in the Republican Party primary election (see Matter of Eisenberg v Strasser, 100 NY2d 590, 591; Matter of Fernandez v Monegro, 10 AD3d 429, 430). We agree with Marchionda that she established that Casella did not reside at the address that he listed as his residence on his designating petition (see Election Law § 6-132 ; Eisenberg, 100 NY2d at 591). “As used in the Election Law, the term ‘residence’ is synonymous with ‘domicile’ . . . The crucial determination whether a particular residence complies with the requirements of the Election Law is that the individual must manifest an intent [to reside there], coupled with physical presence ‘without any aura of sham’” (Fernandez, 10 AD3d at 430; see Matter of Glickman v Laffin, 27 NY3d 810, 815). Here, the evidence adduced at the hearing established that Casella had moved from the address listed on his designating petition months prior to the petition’s circulation.”
The designating petitions filed by incumbent District Attorney Valerie Gardner were ruled valid by the Yates County Board of Elections, despite challenges lodged, but not substantiated, by the Casella campaign.