Common Pleas Judge Joyce Eubanks took a day of vacation on Election Day last week and drove to various polling locations around Germantown, confiscating election material that omitted her name.
Eubanks was appointed to the court last year by Gov. Rendell, but she needed voters to elect her to a full 10-year term. She discovered that she'd been dumped from the sample ballots distributed by the 13th Ward Democratic organization in Germantown, headed by state Rep. Rosita Youngblood.
Democratic City Committee's top lawyer, Steven S. Kaplan, went to the judge assigned to handle election disputes, Harold M. Kane, and asked him to prohibit distribution of the 13th Ward sample ballots.
Each carried the headline, "13th Ward Democratic Executive Committee Ballot."
But Kaplan told Kane that the sample ballots were illegal because they didn't say who had paid for them, or identify a treasurer.
Kane initially disagreed. "The . . . ballot has the '13th Ward Democratic Executive Committee,' " the judge said. "I would imagine that's who paid for it."
Kaplan insisted that state law also required campaign literature to identify a treasurer, but was unable to identify such a provision in the election code. Nonetheless, Judge Kane relented. "That's all right," the judge said. "I think you're right."
Kane signed an order, drafted by Kaplan, authorizing "any elected or appointed election official [or] the Sheriff of Philadelphia . . . to remove copies of the attached ballots/literature . . . and serve a copy of this order on anyone distributing copies of the attached ballot."
Judge Eubanks personally delivered unofficial copies of Kane's order to at least eight polling places, confiscating hundreds of sample ballots that promoted her rivals, according to Rep. Youngblood.
Marge Stuski, an election lawyer who represents Youngblood and Sharon Williams-Losier, a Common Pleas Court candidate who finished eighth in the race for seven judicial nominations, said that Eubanks was not an election official, elected or appointed, and had no authority to enforce the order.
"I think it's reprehensible that a sitting judge would disobey a court order," Stuski said.
But Fred Voigt, a deputy city commissioner, said that it was standard practice for candidates like Eubanks to enforce election-related court orders.
"The sheriff doesn't enforce any of that stuff," Voigt said. "It's typically enforced by whoever sought the order."
Eubanks could not be reached for comment. Youngblood declined to discuss the "long-standing problem" that led her ward to dump Eubanks.
The election results? Eubanks finished 10th with just over 24,000 votes, about 1,750 votes out of the money. *