Nader for President Press Release

September 18, 2004

For Further Information:
Kevin Zeese

Judges Undisclosed Conflict of Interest Undermines Legitimacy of Ruling Keeping Nader Off New Mexico Ballot

Judge Was Major Donor to Kerry Campaign – Failed to Disclose Conflict of Interest and Should Have Recused Herself

New Mexico State Supreme Court Expedited Appeal to Be Filed Monday Morning

Washington, DC: The Independent Campaign of Ralph Nader and Peter Miguel Camejo described as “outrageous” the failure of Judge Wendy York to recuse herself from a case in which she was partisan.  At a minimum she should have disclosed that she was a $1,000 contributor to the Kerry presidential campaign rather than keeping such information secret.

“A judge deciding a case involving a campaign directly related to a candidate she supports and funds has an obvious conflict of interest.  Any decision she makes that benefits her candidate has no legitimacy,” said Ralph Nader.  “Sadly, her decision ignores tens of thousands of New Mexican voters who signed petitions to place Nader-Camejo on the ballot.  The New Mexico State Supreme Court will have an opportunity to undo this injustice.”

The Nader-Camejo campaign will be filing an expedited appeal on Monday morning. New Mexico law requires that such appeals be heard within five days. The campaign submitted 31,400 signatures, New Mexico law requires 14,527.

The failure of the district court judge to disclose in open court a potential conflict of interest –that she had donated $1000 to the Kerry campaign – and either recuse herself or give the parties the opportunity to waive the conflict of interest violates legal ethics. The New Mexico Judicial Code of Ethics requires recusal in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Obviously deciding an election case in which a candidate she donated to is directly affected creates at a minimum an appearance of impropriety and a clear conflict of interest.

Judge York’s conflict of interest undermines the integrity of her decision to exclude Nader-Camejo from the ballot and explains what is otherwise an inexplicable decision. Since the advent of government-printed ballots in 1889, 61 out of the 62 non-major party candidates for president have appeared on multiple party lines or as independents combined with multiple part lines. Under Judge York’s decision none of these candidates could have run for office in New Mexico. Her conflict-laden decision undermines the public’s confidence in the judicial system and in the legitimacy of the election.