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Goodall v. Williams

United States District Court, D. Colorado

April 28, 2018

MELISSA RENEE GOODALL, JEREMY WAYDE GOODALL, SHAUNA LEIGH ARRINGTON, JEFFERY PHILLIP ARRINGTON, KARLA JO KROEKER, RYAN MARK TIPPLE, REP. DOUGLAS LAMBORN, and LAMBORN FOR CONGRESS, Plaintiffs,
v.
WAYNE W. WILLIAMS, in his official capacity as Colorado Secretary of State, Defendant.

          ORDER

          PHILIP A. BRIMMER United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Partially-Unopposed Motion to Intervene [Docket No. 9] filed on April 26, 2018. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         In January 2018, U.S. Congressman Douglas Lamborn announced his intent to seek the Republican Party nomination in the primary election for Colorado's Fifth Congressional District, which is to be held on June 26, 2018. Docket No. 1 at 14, ¶ 47. Pursuant to Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-4-801, which allows for designation of party candidates by petition, various volunteer and professional circulators circulated nominating petitions on Congressman Lamborn's behalf. Id. at 12, 14, ¶¶ 42, 48, 49. Under § 1-4-801(2)(b), Congressman Lamborn was required to obtain 1, 000 verified signatures from registered Republicans in the Fifth Congressional District to gain access to the 2018 Republican primary election ballot.

         On March 29, 2018, defendant Wayne Williams, the Secretary of State of Colorado (“the Secretary”), certified that Congressman Lamborn had obtained a total of 1, 269 valid signatures. Id. at 14, ¶ 50. On April 3, 2018, five voters from Colorado's Fifth Congressional District filed a verified petition in the District Court for the City and County of Denver challenging the Secretary's determination as to the sufficiency of Congressman Lamborn's nominating petition. Id. at 15, ¶ 51. Specifically, the petitioners argued that several of Congressman Lamborn's circulators were not residents of Colorado, as required under Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-4-905(1), [2] and thus the signatures collected by those circulators were invalid. Id. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court concluded that only one of Congressman Lamborn's circulators failed to meet the residency requirements under § 1-4-905(1). Id. at 15, ¶¶ 51-52; see also Kuhn v. Williams, No. 18SA176, at *9-10 (Colo. 2018) (slip op.). Because the signatures collected by the remaining circulators totaled 1, 211, the court upheld the Secretary's finding that Congressman Lamborn's nominating petition was sufficient to certify him to the primary ballot. Id. On appeal, the Colorado Supreme Court reversed. Docket No. 1 at 15, ¶ 53. In regard to one of the challenged circulators, the court determined that the district court had erred in finding that he was a Colorado resident. Specifically, the Colorado Supreme Court held that the district court “improperly focused on [Ryan] Tipple's stated future intent to move to Colorado” in determining whether he was a resident of Colorado under § 1-4-905(1). See Kuhn, No. 18SA176, at *5. The Colorado Supreme Court determined that Tipple did not satisfy § 1-4-905(1)'s residency requirement and thus the 269 signatures he collected on behalf of Congressman Lamborn were invalid. See Id. at *4, *24. The court further determined that, because Congressman Lamborn's signatures now fell short of the 1, 000 required to be on the Republican primary ballot, the Secretary could “not certify Representative Lamborn to the 2018 primary ballot for [the Fifth Congressional District.]” Id. at 25.

         Plaintiffs - registered voters in Colorado's Fifth Congressional District, Ryan Tipple, Congressman Douglas Lamborn, and Lamborn for Congress - filed this lawsuit on April 25, 2018, challenging the constitutionality of the circulator residency requirement in Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-4-905(1). Docket No. 1. Plaintiffs seek a court order declaring that the residency requirement is unconstitutional under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Id. at 20, ¶ 1. In addition, they request an injunction directing the Colorado Secretary of State to certify Congressman Lamborn to the 2018 Republican primary election ballot. Id., ¶ 2. On April 25, 2018, plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction. Docket No. 2.

         On April 26, 2018, a group of individuals consisting of the state-court petitioners, current and former legislators of the Colorado General Assembly, State Senator Owen Hill, a candidate for Colorado's Fifth Congressional District in the 2018 Republican Party primary, and Eric Baldini, an individual who alleges that he was misled into signing Congressman Lamborn's nominating petition (collectively “intervenors” or “proposed intervenors”), filed a motion to intervene in opposition to plaintiffs' request for a court order directing the Secretary to certify Congressman Lamborn to the 2018 Republican primary ballot. Docket No. 9. On April 27, 2018, defendant filed a response in opposition to the motion to intervene. Docket No. 13. Both defendant and the proposed intervenors have also filed responses opposing plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction. Docket Nos. 26, 27. The hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction is set for Monday, April 30, 2018. Docket No. 7. The deadline for certification of candidates to the 2018 Republican primary ballot is May 3, 2018. Docket No. 13 at 6 n.1.[3]

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 governs the intervention of non-parties. Under Rule 24(a)(2), non-parties may intervene in a pending lawsuit as of right if: “(1) the application is timely; (2) the applicants claim an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action; (3) the applicants' interest may as a practical matter be impaired or impeded; and (4) the applicants' interest is not adequately represented by existing parties.” Western Energy Alliance v. Zinke, 877 F.3d 1157, 1164 (10th Cir. 2017) (brackets omitted).[4] “Failure to satisfy even one of these requirements is sufficient to warrant denial of a motion to intervene as of right.” Maynard v. Colo. Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, No. 09-cv-02052-WYD-KMT, 2010 WL 2775569, at *3 (D. Colo. July 14, 2010) (quoting Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n v. Heritage Capital Advisory Servs., Ltd., 736 F.2d 384, 386 (7th Cir. 1984)).

         If a non-party is not entitled to intervention as of right, he or she may seek permissive intervention under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(b). Permissive intervention is allowed if (1) the motion to intervene is timely and (2) the non-party “has a claim or defense that shares with the main action a common question of law or fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(b)(1).[5] “The decision to grant or deny a motion for permissive intervention is wholly discretionary with the district court.” Maynard, 2010 WL 2775569, at *4 (quoting South Dakota ex rel. Barnett v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, 317 F.3d 783, 787 (8th Cir. 2003)).

         III. ANALYSIS[6]

         The proposed intervenors assert that they are entitled to intervene in this action as of right under Rule 24(a)(2). Docket No. 9 at 5. In the alternative, they contend that they satisfy the requirements for permissive intervention. Id. at 15-16.

         A. Compliance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(c)

         The proposed intervenors collectively assert three principal interests in this litigation. Their first two interests pertain to (1) preserving the party affiliation requirement in Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-4-905(1) and (2) ensuring the honesty and integrity of petition circulators, based on alleged misrepresentations made by circulators working on behalf of Congressman Lamborn. Docket No. 9 at 6-7. Neither of these interests has any relevance to the subject matter of this lawsuit, which is the constitutionality of § 1-4-905(1)'s residency requirement. The third interest, which is asserted primarily by Senator Hill, relates to the uncertainty and confusion that could result if Congressman Lamborn is permitted provisional access to the 2018 Republican Party ballot. Docket No. 9 at 8-9.

         Defendant argues that the motion to intervene should be denied based on the fact that the proposed intervenors have failed to comply with the procedural requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 24. See Docket No. 13 at 2. Rule 24(c) requires that a motion to intervene “state the grounds for intervention and be accompanied by a pleading that sets out the claim or defense for which intervention is sought.” The proposed intervenors have not attached any pleading to their motion to intervene. Especially where, as here, the intervenors are attempting to assert claims that plaintiffs have not raised, compliance with Rule 24(c) is necessary for the Court and the existing parties to evaluate the propriety and effect of intervention. Compare Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int'l Ins. Co., 966 F.2d 470, 475 (9th Cir. 1992) (“[W]here, as here, the movant describes the basis for intervention with sufficient specificity to allow the district court to rule, its failure to submit a pleading is not grounds for reversal.”). For example, it is doubtful whether the Court would have jurisdiction over many of the claims the intervenors want to assert, which appear to involve state law issues only.

         The intervenors contend that the failure to comply with Rule 24(c) is not dispositive because the “motion to intervene, itself, provides sufficient notice of the claims the Intervenors intend to assert.” Docket No. 23 at 2. The Court disagrees. The intervenors seek to add new claims to this litigation without clearly identifying the legal bases for those claims, who the claims are asserted against, and whether some of the claims are being asserted as defenses to plaintiffs' lawsuit. Under such circumstances, the failure to comply with Rule 24(c) is a sufficient ground on which to deny intervention.

         Technical noncompliance with Rule 24(c) is not dispositive where the asserted basis for intervention is sufficiently specific to allow the court to evaluate the appropriateness of intervention. Beckman Indus., Inc., 966 F.2d at 474. As discussed below, Senator Hill has asserted a defined and particularized interest in avoiding voter confusion. This interest is within the scope of plaintiffs' complaint. Accordingly, Senator Hill's failure to comply with Rule 24(c) is not, by itself, preclusive of his ability to intervene.[7]

         B. ...


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