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Exemplary Case of Residency Disputes for Political Candidates

Exemplary Case of Residency Disputes for Political Candidates

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Published by davidwalters
Insubstantial lawsuit filed by famed lawyer for blogger falls flat. Updates and documents will be posted when available.
Insubstantial lawsuit filed by famed lawyer for blogger falls flat. Updates and documents will be posted when available.

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Published by: davidwalters on Nov 06, 2013
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12/23/2013

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MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 
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J.P. Morgan v Sherry Kaplan Roberts
 GROUNDLESS EFFORT TO DISQUALIFY CANDIDATE DISMISSED
 Insubstantial lawsuit filed by famed lawyer for blogger falls flat
5 November 2013 (Updated 7 November) Filed by David Arthur Walters MIAMI MIRROR MIAMI BEACH—J.P. Morgan's petition for a declaratory judgment to disqualify Sherry Kaplan Roberts’ candidacy for a City of Miami Beach Commission seat was tossed out of court yesterday. Morgan, who sits on the city’s Transportation and Parking Committee, and is the editor and owner of the online publication, City Debate, had already filed a "Confidential" Complaint with the Elections Commission, and published it on the Internet, making the allegation that Ms. Roberts was actually a resident of Ohio, not Miami Beach, suggesting that she may have committed the crimes of perjury and real estate tax fraud in Florida or Ohio, since she had claimed residency in both states. Morgan declined to respond in writing to my letter to him after he filed his complaint with the Elections Commission. I had pointed out that what Roberts may have said in Ohio did not disprove that she was a resident of the City of Miami Beach, that the definitions of residency could be complex, and that he had presented no proof of non-residency in Florida. On 3 November, I sent an email to his legendary attorney, Benedict Kuehne, as follows:
 
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"Sir. Mr. Morgan raises good questions and his motives for doing so are irrelevant; but what Ms. Roberts may have said in Ohio would NOT be relevant to the facts here even though suspicious. Do you have absolute proof that she is not a resident according to Florida and local law therefore lied here? If not would some federal law obtain? I am curious about the legal principles to which the particulars are incidental. Thanks if you can help educate the lay public." He did not reply. He obviously did not have the proof required. His 48-page suit fell flat as expected the next day. Rumors were afloat that Robert's opponent Mickey Steinberg was paying the fees for Morgan. Morgan said that if Steinberg had picked up on his exposure of Roberts, it was not his problem. He denied that he contributed to the mass mailing depicting Roberts as a resident of Ohio, the glossy mailer virtually quoting his allegations, with Roberts wearing a T-shirt “I Love Ohio.” Steinberg denied that she had anything to do with getting Roberts off the ballot. Nonetheless, retired lawyer and political activist Frank Del Vechhio, who said the lawsuit was “bogus,” revealed that her politician husband Richard Steinberg had fingered the exact location where Roberts was sitting on the beach to the process server. “The process server was surprised that I was waiting for him,” Roberts said. “He said people usually run.” "Wow!" I said to Morgan when I initially saw he had filed suit after filing a complaint with the election commission, and that Benedict Kuehne
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Al Gore’s attorney in the 2000 Florida elections fiasco, was his lawyer. He said the complaint to the commission would take too much time, so he had to file suit to stop Roberts before the election. "You sure cooked Sherry's goose! It will be tossed but serves the purpose. How can you afford high-priced Ben? I didn't realize you were that loaded!" "There is no price we should put on the First Amendment," he answered, but refused to answer my question as to the retainer he paid, after I estimated it to be $5,000, citing attorney-client  privilege. However, he later admitted that the fee exceeded $4,000, and insisted that he paid out of his own pocket. Morgan has told me in the past that political campaign seasons are lucrative for his business. However, according to the 18 October report of Miami Herald reporter Christina Veiga, he denied that any candidate had paid him to run his blogs, and he insisted to me that his sole interest was in getting at the truth as an editor, journalist, and citizen. I told Morgan that I was looking forward to his report on the upcoming 4 November hearing, how the judge would decline to give him the declaration he wanted. He promised to immediately let me know the disposition:
 
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"I will send you a text the moment I leave the court house tomorrow morning." I did not hear from him by late afternoon. However, I was alerted that his petition had failed, and was told that not only was Roberts declared a resident, but the judge had said, in effect, that she was a good resident. I happened to be on the lanai of a Decoplage condo on the floor below Robert's former penthouse residence, where she had lived recently for years and had served the condominium association as its president. I forwarded the news to Morgan. "No that's not what the judge said although the judge did rule in her favor," he responded. I opined that the transcripts would be out the next day, and the matter would be aired on television. "I doubt it very much considering that the only court reporter there was on my payroll and I have no intention of having it transcribed." "Oh, really? I don't blame you for keeping it secret. It's getting her a lot of votes." "My only interest in filing the suit was to finally settle which way it was or was she not a resident of the City of Miami Beach under the city charter. I might even wind up voting for her," he said. I contacted him again, on 5 November, and said that he had made Roberts’ Florida residency look fishy, but looks are insufficient in court. “Let voters see the transcript of the hearing for balance, okay?” “Do you want to pay $600 for this transcript to be transcribed for an election that will be over in three hours?” “Your motive may be political,” I responded. I was surprised that you, as an editor and journalist, filed any complaint at all. My training is to write a report and have it published, send a copy to the relevant authority, ask them later what they did with it, and report on that. My purpose is educative and expositive. I am hoping you will sponsor transcription and publication to that end.” He later informed me that Roberts had confessed during the hearing that she had mistakenly misstated Ohio as her residence on forms filed in Ohio, and said she would take steps in Ohio to correct the errors. He would not press criminal charges against her anywhere, he said, as his only interest was in getting at the truth in respect to the elections.

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