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THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE U.S. SUPREME COURT, PREDICTS UGA LAW PROFESSOR

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Monday, December 11, 2000

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

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

THE BUCK STOPS WITH THE U.S. SUPREME COURT, PREDICTS UGA LAW PROFESSOR

ATHENS, Ga. - The buck stops with the U.S. Supreme Court, predicts Professor Ron Carlson, a nationally renowned trial law expert at the University of Georgia School of Law. Carlson says the nation's high court could finally bring an end to the seemingly relentless legal battle over the election results in Florida and reach a decision that will determine the next president of the United States.

"The normal inclination of the Supreme Court is to be narrow in its opinions, but we're in very unusual times with this particular case," says Carlson. "It's conceivable that the Supreme Court could look at the landscape and say things are in such chaos, such disarray, that this is the time for us to become an historic supreme court and to be remembered as the court that resolved the great election controversy of 2000."

Carlson says the Supreme Court could provide finality by confirming the certification of election results on November 26, 2000 -- the deadline set originally by the Florida Supreme Court and the date when Florida's Secretary of State certified George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as the winners of Florida's electoral votes. "If they did that, if they confirmed the secretary of state's decision," Carlson explains, "that would not only settle the recount lawsuits, but it would also settle the still pending appeals in the absentee voter cases from Seminole and Martin counties."

Carlson disagrees with those who claim that a wide segment of the public will not grant legitimacy to an election decided by the nine justices of the high court, and says they need to consider what he terms "the exhale factor." His definition: "the national collective sigh of relief by the average citizen which will overwhelm any recriminations about the Miami/Dade incomplete vote."

Another possible option - and one perhaps not so farfetched, since it was mentioned in the opinion issued by the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court - would be for the U.S. Supreme Court to strike Florida's electors if they deem the election results as too uncertain. Doing so would throw the decision to the U.S. House for the presidency and the U.S. Senate for the vice presidency. At that point, Carlson would bank on the Bush/Lieberman ticket.

However, Carlson's prediction is that the court will bring this long dispute to a close with a slender 5-4 decision: "Nobody knows, but it seems to me from the straws in the wind - granting the stay, hearing these arguments on an expedited basis - that the court well may see its role as the one to save the republic, and that's why its traditionally narrow approach probably will be cast aside in favor of the national good."

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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