BURLINGTON: It found that district attorneys must be practicing attorneys.
District Court Judge Gregory Bartlett ruled Friday afternoon when he removed a libertarian candidate for Boone County’s attorney from the November vote.
Libertarian Joseph Szeremet is one of two libertarian candidates in northern Kentucky fighting to stay on the ballot in a year the libertarians put six candidates on local ballots in northern Kentucky.
In the other case, Kenton County Clerk’s Gabrielle Sum filed a lawsuit against their libertarian challenger Christopher Robinson claiming he had not lived in Kentucky long enough to qualify for candidacy.
That case will be heard in Kenton County Circuit Court next Friday.
Robinson hopes to be luckier than Szeremet. The judge praised Szeremet for his interest in running for public office, but called his candidacy “an absurdity”.
Szeremet was a licensed attorney in Michigan for 32 years but retired 10 years ago and is not licensed in Kentucky.
He argued that the Kentucky constitution only required two years of practice as a lawyer, not a current legal license.
Acting Boone County Attorney Bob Neace, a Republican, said it was absurd. .
“The first thing he would have to do if he was elected would be to prosecute himself for practicing law without a license,” said Neace.
The judge agreed. Bartlett said, “It would be absurd to say we would choose people who are not lawyers to become district attorneys.”
“I welcome your interest in the civil service, but as the lawyer said, there are rules that apply to the public service,” said Bartlett Szeremet, who represented himself at the hearing.
Bartlett, a Kenton County District Court judge, accepted the case in Boone County because Boone County Judge Anthony Frohlich stepped down to avoid conflicts of interest as he dealt regularly with Neace.
Szeremet said Bartlett misinterpreted the constitution, which says a district attorney should be a practicing attorney for two years. Szeremet interpreted this as any two years and not necessarily the current two years. He doesn’t know if he’s going to appeal.
“To be honest, I’m losing interest because I’m alone,” said Szeremet. “I don’t have a law firm or anything like that. But I have time. I won’t necessarily take part in the vote, but I can take the matter up just to prove him wrong.”
Where did the liberals live?
Another libertarian is fighting to stay on the ballot.
In the Kenton County Clerk race, Republican Sum said her opponent hadn’t lived in Kentucky long enough to face her.
The Kentucky Constitution requires a person to live in Kentucky for at least two years and a county to hold public office in that county for one year.
Robinson claims he has lived in Covington since May 2012.
In her lawsuit, Sum submitted an application for a neighborhood stabilization grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that Robinson filed in June 2013, where he listed his home on Big Horn Court on the west side of Cincinnati.
Robinson also had a Virginia driver’s license until January 2014, when the lawsuit gave him a license in Kentucky to register to vote.
Robinson claims the Cincinnati address is his grandmother’s; he used it when applying for a grant to buy a refurbished house on Banklick Street in Covington. He claims he doesn’t drive and didn’t change his driver’s license until this year.
“It’s a shame someone would try to throw me off the ballot so they don’t have to put money into a campaign and run without resistance,” said Robinson.
He previously lived in an apartment on Mainstrasse in Covington. Kentucky Libertarian Party chairman Ken Moellman said he knew this because he picked up Robinson from this address many times to attend Libertarian Party meetings.
Sum did not respond to a message requesting a comment. Her attorney Edward Lanter said the information they have is that he does not meet the residency requirements and that this will be settled in a hearing next Friday.
“I contacted him by letter in July,” said Lanter. “He did not answer. Ms. Sum had no choice but to file the lawsuit.”