By JOSH JAMES
An election law expert at the University of Kentucky says a lawsuit seeking to remove GOP Attorney General candidate Daniel Cameron from the November ballot is unlikely to hold up in court.
“I think this lawsuit is fairly weak,” says UK law professor Josh Douglas.
The suit claims Cameron falls shy of state requirements to run for the top law enforcement post because he hasn’t practiced law for the constitutionally mandated eight years. Cameron was admitted to the bar in 2011 but subsequently clerked for a federal judge for two years. The lawsuit argues that, during that time, Cameron was not permitted to practice.
“A federal judicial clerkship cannot reasonably be considered the ‘practice of law’ as defined by the Kentucky Supreme Court because it does not involve any legal service to ‘one requiring the services,’ as there is no client involved in federal judicial clerkships,” Joseph Jackson of Louisville alleges in the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Yet Douglas says that’s a narrow interpretation of the phrasing in the law.
“It tries to make the case that that language — practicing lawyer — means only representing clients and yet I found no authorities that would support that kind of interpretation for this purpose,” Douglas counters.
Full disclosure: Douglas also served as a federal law clerk for two years and says he thinks that experience would count as part of his legal practice. The professor and author also says opponents of the suit are likely to point out the relatively late date of the filing.
“Anytime you have last minute election litigation like this, there’s the legal side, but there’s also the political side as part of the campaign and surely that’s also and probably the bigger thing that’s going on here,” the election observer says.
Stumbo, whom Cameron accuses of orchestrating the lawsuit although he is not a party to it, has criticized his GOP rival’s level of experience.
The Democratic Attorneys General Association has also raised red flags, arguing Cameron’s “lack of legal experience and his Washington, D.C. connections to (Sen. Mitch McConnell) are clearly concerning qualities for someone who wants to serve as the chief legal officer in the state.”
Cameron’s campaign responded Tuesday with a press release calling the suit a “corrupt attempt to disqualify the first African-American Attorney General nominee in Kentucky’s history,” suggesting the court challenge is similar to one made against Democrat Ben Chandler in the mid-90s that was eventually thrown out by a Franklin Circuit judge.