A new filing today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia shows that attorneys for a local rabbi and the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics are in settlement talks over the handling of a local election scheduled during a Jewish holiday.
Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld sued (PDF) the board over a special election that took place on April 26, which was also the eighth and final day of Passover. The eighth day is one of several when observant Jews are barred from signing their name or completing an electronic circuit, which, Herzeld said, meant they couldn’t vote.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan denied a last-minute request for an emergency injunction to reschedule the election, but gave Herzfeld a green light to pursue other claims against the city over their handling of the situation. The board said that their hands were tied by law from changing special election dates except in extreme circumstances.
On Monday, both sides filed a joint motion to stay (PDF) proceedings for another month, telling the court that they had drafted language of a written settlement and “are in the process of negotiating the terms of the agreement.”
Herzfeld’s attorney, Steven Lieberman of Washington’s Rothwell, Figg, Ernst & Manbech, declined to comment on settlement talks. A representative of the board wasn’t immediately available for comment.
The settlement, according to the motion, would make it unnecessary for the court to decide several other pending motions. The city had filed to strike language from Herzfeld’s amended complaint accusing city officials of falsely stating that even if the election had fallen on Christmas Day, they would not have been able to change the date.
The case was reassigned in September from Sullivan to U.S. District Judge James Gwin of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The court occasionally reassigns cases to judges outside of the district in order to ease the docket.