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Daily News: August 30, 2001: Roper is back on Dem ballot

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Posted by GET NY on 07:31:48 01/03/05

Roper is back on Dem ballot
Wins appeal, will run vs. Hynes

The Daily News
August 30, 2001

By BILL EGBERT

With two weeks left before the Democratic primary, an insurgent candidate for Brooklyn district attorney has won her appeal to get back on the ballot.

The attempt by Brooklyn civil rights lawyer Sandra Roper to take on incumbent District Attorney Charles Hynes in the Sept. 11 Democratic primary was smashed under a judge's gavel two weeks ago. That's when the court ordered her name removed from the ballot over allegations of fraud in her petition filings.

In a huge legal assault, attorneys for Hynes had subpoenaed 172 witnesses - including Roper's father, who died 11 years ago - and sent investigators to question Roper's petition carriers at their homes.

The main issue was 400 signatures among the 14,000 Roper filed. The petitions in question were all gathered by one individual, written in the same handwriting and listed in alphabetical order by address. Hynes' team said they were evidence of "pervasive fraud" in Roper's petitions.

On Aug. 17, Judge Lewis Douglass sided with Hynes and knocked Roper off the ballot, along with Civil Court judgeship candidates Eileen Nadelson and Peter Sweeney, who shared petition-signature collection workers with Roper.

Roper argued in her appeal that the 400 dubious signatures should not have been considered evidence of abuses in her petitions, because the signatures were actually gathered on behalf of City Council candidate Yolanda Martin.

Martin had agreed to list Roper's name on her petitions along with her own - a common arrangement between local candidates and boroughwide candidates, who must gather thousands of signatures.
The appeals court agreed with Roper and ruled Tuesday evening to reinstate all three candidates on the ballot.

Hynes' attorneys immediately appealed the ruling to the Court of Appeals in Albany, but the state's highest court declined to hear the appeal yesterday.

Hynes' campaign shrugged off yesterday's defeat and maintained that Roper's primary challenge was not a threat.

"DA Hynes looks forward to campaigning on a record of achievement, of reducing crime and of protecting the public," said campaign spokesman Mortimer Matz.

Roper, a firebrand attorney known for taking on formidable opponents, continued campaigning even after the Aug. 17 ruling, vowing to wage a write-in campaign if her appeal failed.

Tim McAuliffe, Roper's petition chairman, said that while everyone involved in her campaign expected a political hailstorm when they challenged the entrenched party machine, they were surprised at the forces against them.

McAuliffe even questioned the impartiality of Douglass, the judge who booted Roper from the ballot.

"Justice is supposed to be blind," said McAuliffe, "but that judge had 20-20 `Hynes-sight.'"



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