Thursday, June 05, 2008

NAAAG to Appeal!

USNA-At-Large, breaking news from our NAAAG friends --

June 5, 2008
Status of Legal Action (12)
As you know, on April 7 Judge Caroom dismissed our suit, basing his decision on acceptance of the claim by the Board's lawyer that the tenure limits imposed on the Chair, Vice Chair and Immediate Predecessor of the Chair by the Bylaws in effect during the 2006 election are ambiguous.   Convinced that he is mistaken and that an appropriate reading of the Bylaws could not possibly support such a conclusion, on April 12 we filed a motion asking him to reconsider.  In the motion we pointed out to the court that, among other things, he had justified his action by referring to language in the Bylaws dealing with the President and Board-appointed trustees, about whom no questions whatsoever had ever been raised.
As you also know, on May 15 the judge denied without comment our request.  While this was not unexpected, motions to reconsider are rejected some 95 percent of the time, it was handed down more quickly than anticipated and came without reference to the arguments made in our motion.  Further, it came without his having waited to receive our rebuttal to the Association's opposition to the motion and without the hearing on it he had earlier indicated he would hold.
Copies of these documents, the order dismissing our suit, our motion to reconsider, and the Judge's denial of that motion are posted on the NAAAG website, , as documents NG46, NG47, and NG50 respectively. 
On that same date, May 15, the Judge denied a "Motion to Sever, Certify as Final, and Stay the Request for Declaratory Judgment" we had filed at his invitation.  He did so in an effort to resolve a legal question that had arisen out of an uncertainty regarding the court's authority to dispose of a declaratory judgment action without the entry of a declaration of the rights of the parties.  After asking for a briefing on this technical procedural issue by way of a motion to sever and response, the court concluded it was authorized to dismiss the declaratory judgment action without entering a judgment declaring the rights of the parties, in effect clearing the way for an expeditious appeal of his original dismissal of our suit.
The actions by the court subsequent to the original – and in our view erroneous -- decision to dismiss our suit follow from that action.  It is this decision that is at issue.  We have said from the outset that our goal was to make our case in open court and have it decided on its merits; we have been denied that opportunity, principally on procedural grounds, grounds we are convinced are entirely at odds with the facts of the case and legal precedents applicable to it.  What, then, are we going to do?   On May 29 we filed a Notice of Appeal with the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County indicated our intention to appeal to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.  A copy of the notice is posted on the website as document NG51.
The Court of Special Appeals is made up of 27 jurists from across the state who sit in three judge panels to hear cases.  A second level to which appeal can be made is to the state's "supreme" court, the Maryland Court of Appeals.  It is made up of seven judges, all of whom sit for each case.  Usually cases move from the former to the latter, but the high court may take up a case directly if the legal issues it raises are deemed important enough.  
The filing of the Appeal Notice has set in motion a process involving the preparation of reports, records and transcripts related to the case, the filing of briefs by both parties, and concludes with the hearing of oral arguments by the 3-judge Court of Special Appeals panel.   Given that the court does not sit in August, it could take as long as eight months or more for a decision to be announced.
While they will be generally apparent from the documents referred to above and others posted on the NAAAG website, our grounds for appealing as well as why doing so is necessary and important will be the subject of more detailed treatment in future log entries.   At this point we want simply to let you know of our intent to stay the course and to ask that you continue to support this effort.
Now more than ever we need your financial support to pay our legal bills and we need your help in getting the word out to other alumni regarding what has happened to our Association and what is riding on the final outcome of this lawsuit.  Please contribute, either through the website or by sending a check made out to NAAAG, Inc., to NAAAG, Inc., P.O. Box 2709, Alexandria, VA  22301.
Stay tuned,
Bill Tate, '64
Jim Kenney, '58
Mike Tackney, '64


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