RTC chairman says town attorney’s ‘opinion’ is wrong

On the same day that Republican Town Committee Chairman James Millington questioned Town Attorney Stanton Lessor’s directive to continue preparing for a special election on June 6, Lessor doubled-down on his “opinion” to the Town Clerk and Registrar of Voters in an official email.

The email, addressed to the Town Clerk and both Registrar of Voters, instructed them to continue to prepare for the special election and denied that a stay was in place.

Here are the contents of that email from the Town Attorney:

From: Stanton Lesser [ HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]” mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 1:58 PM

To: Elworthy, Steve; Lesser, Stanton H.

Cc: Browne, Betsy; Waggner, Matthew

Subject: RE: Special Selectman Election

It is my opinion that currently there is no stay in place. As for timing, I believe that that is up to SOTS guidelines. You should continue to follow those at present.

Regards,

Stanton H. Lesser, Esq.

Fairfield Town Attorney

Millington remarked, “Attorney Lessor is the only one who believes there is no stay in place. The Democrats have even proceeded to draft a motion to have the stay lifted. The Town Attorney can bury his head in the sand, but the facts are clear: Mr. Lessor signed the petition requesting the special election and is thus conflicted in this case. As he did in the initial legal action, he should recuse himself immediately from providing legal guidance on the special election until the stay is lifted and the appeal is heard.”  

Millington cited Connecticut’s “Rules of Appellate Procedure” in addressing why the automatic stay for this case is in accordance with section 61-11 “Stay of Execution in Noncriminal Cases.”  Subsection (a) states that in cases such as this one there is an “Automatic Stay of Execution” on the judgment. The section reads: “Except where otherwise provided by statue or other law, proceedings to enforce or carry out the judgement or order shall be automatically stayed until the time to file the appeal has expired. If an appeal is filed, such proceedings shall be stayed until the final determination of the cause.”

This December, the Democrats filed petitions seeking a special election for Selectman following the resignation of Laurie McArdle and the bipartisan vote of the Board of Selectmen to appoint Ed Bateson. The Town filed a legal action to stop the special election arguing the seat had already been filled in accordance to the charter. A Judge subsequently ordered the election to be held on June 6th and the Town has filed an appeal. The filing of the appeal resulted in an automatic stay on the election that was recently recognized by the Supreme Court in its April 6th ruling denying the Town’s application for an emergency hearing before the state’s highest court.  

Late Tuesday evening, Millington sent an email to the Town Clerk and the Republican Registrar of Voters stating, “In my official capacity as the Fairfield Republican Town Committee Chairman, I am requesting that you review all public documents pertaining to this case to see for yourself, that in fact, there is a stay on this election.”  

Millington continued, “To proceed with expending any taxpayer funds based solely on the partisan advice of a Town Attorney who signed a petition to force this election is be ill advised. I strongly encourage that you hold off on any election-related activities until all your research is done and your questions are answered.”

The Town Clerk is set to order absentee ballots on Thursday, April 27 and the expense to taxpayers will commence.

Millington concluded, “I firmly believe that once the Town Clerk and Registrar confirm that a stay is truly in place, they will hold off on moving forward and expending taxpayer monies until the stay is lifted and/or the appeal is heard.”

Fairfield Republican Town Committee

James Millington, chairman

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