Richmond ballot case may cost taxpayers $100,000

Posted at 12:03 AM, Oct 11, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-11 13:34:42-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Richmond school board candidate Tichi Pinkney-Eppes and mayoral candidate Michael Ryan now have their names on November ballots, but not without having to hire attorneys and go before a judge.

"All we wanted was about a half hour of people's time to show them they were wrong," Paul Goldman, attorney for both candidates, said.

Goldman and a team of lawyers from Troutman Sanders were brought on to try the cases. But Goldman claims the cases never should have ended up in court and argues that his side tried tirelessly to simply have a review of the signatures on the submitted petitions.

He claims both the state and the city rejected any possible review.  

"They forced this case," Goldman said.

Now that the cases are complete, the legal bills are being compiled. Last week attorneys for Eppes filed a petition to recover their fees from the state. By law, in civil rights cases the prevailing party is entitled to recover reasonable fees if they win.

In the Eppes case, they’re asking for $102,000 dollars.

"The fees are a sanction against the state and the registrar for denying people their rights when they should have known better," Goldman said.

Lead counsel for the state and the Richmond Registrar didn’t care to comment in our story. They plan to file a response to the petition for fees on Tuesday.

Mayoral candidate Michael Ryan also won his case and agrees with Goldman that settling this case outside of court would have been a better option. 

"It's going to cost a lot of money and all of it could have been avoided from the get-go," Ryan said. 

Ryan’s case will also like see a petition for fees. Goldman says protected rights were denied and so now the law must be followed.

"They can't just say tough luck you can't do anything about it," Goldman said.