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WITHOUT FRAUD, NO INVALIDATION OF SEMINOLE VOTES, SAYS UGA LAW PROFESSOR

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Wednesday, December 6, 2000

WRITER: Kathy R. Pharr, 706/542-5172, pharr@arches.uga.edu

CONTACT: Prof. Ron Carlson, 706/542-5186 (O); (706)/548-6771 (H)

WITHOUT FRAUD, NO INVALIDATION OF SEMINOLE VOTES, SAYS UGA LAW PROFESSOR

ATHENS, Ga. - The ballot box feud being waged in a Seminole County, Florida courtroom isn't likely to help Vice President Al Gore in his legal bid to claim the Oval Office, says UGA law professor Ron Carlson, a nationally renowned trial law expert. The reason: the absence of a key element in the case.

"Nobody claims that any of the absentee votes in Seminole or Martin County, Florida are fraudulent," says Carlson. "Dead people did note vote. Absent a showing of fraud, the votes will not be thrown out."

He continues: "The burden of proof on the Gore team is even higher in these cases than in the one that went sour for them on Monday in the court of Judge Sanders Sauls. Two specific problems confront Gore. First, if there was a negligent but non-malevolent oversight by the election supervisor in allowing others to put numbers on the ballot, the ballot is voided only if the will of the voter is subverted. Nobody says that occurred. Second, in Democratic counties (counties other than Seminole and Martin), the election supervisors in isolated cases permitted ballots to be counted which had no numbers or to which they had placed the numbers."

Carlson says there might be a case to sanction some election officials, but little legal basis to throw out the ballots. "Al Gore's best hope remains the Sanders Sauls case, which he already lost at trial but may secure a glimmer of hope on appeal," says Carlson. "But appeals from bench trials are much more limited and much less successful than those from jury trials. The Florida Supreme Court has much less leeway to give Al Gore a favorable decision."

Carlson says the fat lady is "definitely singing" in this political war. "I believe Al Gore, although he's desperately anxious to win this election, is an astute enough politician to see that in the very near future there is such a pessimistic outlook for the legal remedies that he will stop and say, 'enough is enough.'"

Carlson, a nationally recognized expert in trial practice, has litigated many cases and has been admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He has written numerous books on trial techniques and provided extensive commentary for the national media in high-profile trials. He may be reached for further contact at (706) 542-5186 (O) or (706) 548-6771 (H).

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