WHO DONE IT?
Eliminating your Political Foe - Constitutional Rights at issue
By: Pat Hunter
September 2, 2008
This would make for a great mystery novel, one for even Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Watson. As any good story, this mystery has a cast of characters, suspects, victim, red herrings and clues, action, suspense and drama. With a trail of clues left to unravel, who stood to gain or lose and what were his or their motives behind this noble or dastardly deed?
When all was said and done, the Election Commission vowed to uphold the law and Joe Sims was disqualified because he did not submit the proper documentation. The name of Joe Sims will not appear as candidate for Lenoir City Mayor on the Nov. 4th ballot. Since he is a convicted felon, he is required to have his rights restored by a Court of law before he can run or hold public office.
We live in a country of democratic principles that affords its citizens many rights and privileges including the restoration of one’s citizenship rights should someone lose those rights.
There is a Constitutional issue regarding the Sims matter which Van Shaver with vanshaver.com brought to the attention of Beth Henry-Robertson, Deputy elections state administrator.
"Aren't you retroactively applying the new law to Mr. Sims situation," Shaver
asked. Section Xl, Part lll of the State Constitution forbids the Legislature
from passing any post facto laws and aren't you increasing his punishment from
the new law of a crime that was committed before law was created? Robertson said
no and she explained why. If Mr. Sims had already been elected and then we came
back and said that you can't hold office because you do not have things in
order; you could argue that in the middle of a term could be retroactive. But
here he failed to qualify based on the
present situation and present law that's not retroactive.
Another question was posed to Beth Henry Robertson. If Mr. Sims disqualification issue had not been brought to the attention of the State Election Office, what were the chances that Mr. Sims would have been disqualified? Unless the election commission would have asked us that question, we would have no way of knowing what goes on in all 95 counties, Beth Henry-Robertson replied. Who brought the information to the attention of the State Election. Beth Henry-Robertson spoke about a “file” of information that was dropped off by an anonymous man (Mr. X) at the Nashville office.
Mr. Sims actions happened years ago and he and his family faced disgrace but he did do his time. Regardless of whether you like or don’t like Sims, he paid his debt to society and the law allows for a person to go before a Court of law to have his or her rights restored.
Readers and voters, who do you think did this? If a person of dubious character operates behind closed doors to eliminate his rival, what more can you expect of this person(s), in or out of public office?
Note: According to the State Election Office, Joe Sims was not sentenced to the penitentiary but a half way house.
SOURCE: Tennessee Code Annotated - Title 40 Criminal Procedure
Reference: 1999 statute - T.C.A. 40-20-114 Disqualification from public office –
“Every person convicted of a felony or an infamous crime and sentenced to the penitentiary, either on the state or federal law, is disqualified from qualifying for, seeking or holding any office under the authority of this state unless and until the person’s citizenship rights have been restored by a court of competent jurisdiction.”
Reference: 2007 statute – T.C.A. 40-20-114 Disqualification from public office –
(a) A person who has been convicted in this state of an infamous crime, as defined by § 40-20-112, other than one specified in subsection (b), or convicted under the laws of the United States or another state of an offense that would constitute an infamous crime if committed in this state, shall be disqualified from qualifying for, seeking election to or holding a public office in this state, unless and until that person's citizenship rights have been restored by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) to the contrary, a person convicted in this state of an infamous crime, as defined by § 40-20-112, or convicted under the laws of the United States or another state of an offense that would constitute an infamous crime if committed in this state, and the offense was committed while that person is holding an elected public office at the federal level, or in this or any other state or any political subdivision of this or any other state, shall be forever disqualified from qualifying for, seeking or holding any public office in this state or any political subdivision of this state, if the offense was committed in the person's official capacity or involved the duties of the person's office. This subsection (b) shall apply even if the person's citizenship rights have been restored, but shall not be construed as limiting the restoration of any other citizenship rights, including the right of suffrage provided for in § 2-2-139, § 2-19-143, or § 40-29-105.
(c) If a person is holding an elected public office and was convicted of an infamous crime pursuant to the qualifications in subsection (b) that was committed prior to July 1, 2007, the person shall be allowed to remain in office for the remainder of the term, but shall forever be prohibited from qualifying for, seeking or holding any public office in this state or political subdivision of this state after July 1, 2007, or when the term expires or when the person vacates the office, whichever is first.
(d) If a person is holding an elected public office and is convicted of an infamous crime pursuant to the qualifications in subsection (b) that was committed on or after July 1, 2007, the conviction shall be grounds for removal from office in the manner provided by law and the person shall forever be prohibited from qualifying for, seeking or holding any public office in this state or political subdivision of this state after July 1, 2007.
(e) If any provision of this section or the application of this section to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the section that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to that end the provisions of this section are declared to be severable.