Chief District Judge Curtis Gomez has blocked an attempt by five Virgin Islands candidates to prevent the swearing-in of the territory’s newly elected officials. The candidates, who lost their races in the November General Election, are preparing to file a motion today to recuse Gomez from hearing the case. In an amended complaint filed Dec. 21, senatorial candidate Lawrence Olive, Senate At-large candidate Wilma Marsh-Monsanto, Delegate to Congress candidate Norma Pickard-Samuel and Board of Elections candidates Harriet Mercer and Diane Magras asked the court for a temporary restraining order to prevent the Jan. 14 swearing-in ceremony. Each party is acting “pro se” and representing himself or herself.
The amended complaint mirrors a similar one filed Dec. 11 in District Court and includes allegations that the Elections System violated the federal Help America Vote Act and other federal and local laws, in part by allowing the use of voting machines that are not compliant with federal standards.
The second complaint added the request for the restraining order and additional allegations about the conduct and oversight of the Elections System, claiming elections officials “have infringed on voters’ fundamental right to vote, fair and transparent elections and to equal protection.”
The complaint asked the court to intervene before the Jan. 14 swearing-in of successful candidates from the 2012 General Election.
Gomez rejected the request in a Dec. 28 order, ruling the plaintiffs’ complaint did not meet the legal burden to justify a temporary restraining order.
“Here, plaintiffs have not alleged specific facts showing that they would face immediate and irreparable injury,” Gomez wrote. “Because plaintiffs have failed to make the required showing under Rule 65, a temporary restraining order cannot issue.”
A footnote in the order points out that while the restraining order request has been denied, the plaintiffs’ other claims remain pending before the court.