1:12 pm Jul. 5, 2012
State Senator Adriano Espaillat won a preliminary round in court this morning, as he wages a legal and public relations fight to challenge what initially appeared to be an overwhelming victory by Representative Charlie Rangel in last week's Democratic primary.
A state supreme court judge in the Bronx decided today to block the city Board of Elections from certifying the primary election results with state officials and will retain oversight of the paper ballot counting currently underway in Manhattan.
Judge John Carter began the court hearing today by declaring that he lives and votes in the district. In his six-page decision, he said the board can't certify the results with state officials "until further order of this court."
Lawyers for the Board of Elections and for Rangel's campaign argued this would slow down the vote-counting process, not speed it up, as Espaillat's lawyer contended.
The lawyer representing the BOE, Stephen Kitzinger, said what Espaillat's campaign sought was "gross overreaching" in the vote-counting process, because Espaillat's attorneys requested access to voting machines and immediate judicial intervention.
Rangel's lawyer, Arthur Grieg, told reporters Espaillat's legal maneuvering was an attempt to keep the senator's name in the press in the days before Espaillat could officially enter the crowded race to retain his own state senate seat, a post he previously said he was vacating to run for Congress.
Greig said Espaillat would "magically" lose interest in the voter fraud allegations by July 11, when the case reconvenes and around the time petitions for the state senate race are due.
Judge Carter also preserved the right to have the court review ballots if one of the campaigns disputes a ruling made by the board's bi-partisan overseers.
On Tuesday, Espaillat's campaign re-filed its complaint to include a statute that would allow them to request an entirely new primary, though the campaign stressed it was merely preserving the possibility.