News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

February 29, 2008

Burke files Hatch Act brief in appellate court

Court now awaits response from Bennett’s side

TERRE HAUTE — Former Terre Haute Mayor Kevin Burke’s attorneys filed his brief in the appellate court this week, continuing the challenge to Mayor Duke Bennett’s eligibility to take office.

Burke’s attorneys on Tuesday filed the brief, which Burke said requests the appellate court to render what Indiana law states is the appropriate remedy after Vigo County Judge David Bolk ruled that Bennett was subject to the Hatch Act.

Burke is appealing the Dec. 21 decision of Bolk, who ruled that while Bennett was subject to a federal law that limits political activity, state law did not prevent him from taking office as Burke contended.

Burke said that the documentation would be considered concise for an appellate brief.

“My attorney describes this as, ‘it’s not a complicated case,’” Burke said. “‘It’s just an important case.’”

Bennett said Friday that he had an opportunity to review the brief, and he thought it contained the same issues as before.

“I didn’t see anything new in there per se,” Bennett said. “It’s really just them packaging” that for the Appeals court.

Burke said that his side could’ve had up to 30 days to submit their brief after they received a transcript of the court hearing, but they submitted their brief in less than 10 days.

“We’ve shown that we’re serious about doing this as quickly as possible,” Burke said. “That’s why we asked the [Indiana] Supreme Court to take it. They rejected it. That’s why we submitted our brief in seven days instead of 30.”

The state Supreme Court on Feb. 6 rejected the effort to bypass the appellate court, even though Burke and Bennett had agreed to the move.

Bennett’s side now has until March 31 to respond to Burke’s brief.

Bennett attorney Bryan Babb said it would probably take all the time that’s been allotted.

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