Roberts says he doesn't know why his lawyers want to postpone case
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Posted: Friday, February 13, 2009 4:27 pm
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Feb. 13, 2009) — Pulaski County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer and Sheriff J.B. King said Friday morning that they don’t know why the attorneys for former Sheriff J.T. Roberts asked to postpone a court case seeking a recount of the sheriff’s election. When reached Friday afternoon by telephone, Roberts said he doesn’t know the answer, either.
“Tuesday, I got a call from the attorney and he said he had a call in to (the county’s attorney) Ivan Schraeder and he would call me back in a little bit,” Roberts said. “Why it’s continued, I don’t know. I’ve tried to call him two or three times but he’s been unavailable so I don’t know what happened … I thought we were set to go this morning; I was ready to go this morning.”
The case had been scheduled since early January to go to trial at 10 a.m. today in the Pulaski County Courthouse before Judge William R. Haas, a senior judge from outside the area who was appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court to hear the case after all local judges decided they couldn’t hear the case due to conflicts of interest.
Roberts is challenging both the narrow margin of his loss in the Nov. 4 general election to the current sheriff, J.B. King, and the way in which the election was conducted. Roberts filed court papers seeking not only a hand-done recount of the race that he lost by 38 votes out of 12,884 cast, but also an entirely new election that would set aside the results of the Nov. 4 race.
The language in court papers seeking a new election has raised questions about Roberts’ intent. During Friday’s interview, Roberts said the language asking for a new election was included based on the advice of his lawyers and said he doesn’t anticipate a need for a new election, only a recount.
“All we want is to have a recount, and we want a hand recount … I was asking for a recount and what he told me initially is that when you file the petition for a recount, if you should at any time consider anything else, you must ask for it at the time you file a petition,” Roberts said. “If there was some fraud or anything show up, it would be in there for us to do.”
Roberts noted that the vote margin Linnenbringer reported between him and King has varied from as few as 37 votes to as many as 40 votes before the final total was certified as 38 votes.
“Even by Diana’s deal, she knows the machines aren’t all that accurate ... Being (only) 38 votes, we want to count all of them,” Roberts said. “If people have taken the time to go vote, I’d like to make sure their ballot counts.”
Roberts also objected to repeated descriptions by various media outlets of his court petition as a “lawsuit,” since he isn’t asking for a monetary or a property settlement.
“There is no lawsuit. The only one who has been sued is me; they have asked me to pay the costs,” Roberts said. “In not one single case throughout the state has the contestant, which is me, been asked for pay for a recount.”
Roberts said reports of how much a hand-recount would cost have been wildly exaggerated.
“You’re not talking about that much money; Johnson County cost $1,200 for a recount,” Roberts said. “These fictitious tales of thousands of dollars are just that, fictitious tales … You’re probably looking a couple of hundred bucks.”
While some have described Roberts’ court petition as an attack on King, Roberts said he had asked his lawyers why King had to be named in the court petition.
“The only part J.B. plays in this is he’s my opponent, and there isn’t anything directed toward him. Diana is the election official for the county and everything is directed toward her, not toward J.B. at all. I asked, ‘Why include J.B.,’ and I was told I had to do that,” Roberts said. “It’s just the fact that he is the other candidate … The only dog he’s got in the show is it depends on how this recount comes out whether he’s in or out.”