Judge says Senate president can run for another term
DENVER – Turning to a dictionary to determine what a “half” is, a judge Wednesday ruled that Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald could run for another term under state term limit laws.”I’m feeling relieved and ready to go forward with my campaign which I believed I was entitled to do. It’s on to November,” Fitz-Gerald said after a conference call with her lawyer.However the Democrat from Coal Creek Canyon said she expected the Republican group that brought the case – the Senate Majority Fund – to appeal the decision.One of the voters who brought the lawsuit along with the GOP group, David Hustvedt, said there are unresolved issues but he hasn’t had a chance to discuss an appeal with his attorney. The second voter, Wesley Gullette, did not have a listed telephone number.State law limits senators to two, four-year terms. Fitz-Gerald was first elected to the Senate on Nov. 7, 2000 to fill out the term of Sen. Tony Grampsas, who died while in office, and she was sworn on Jan. 10, 2001, the first day of the Legislative session.She was elected to her first full term in November 2002.At issue was whether the two years she served should count as a full-term under the state’s term limits law and therefore prevent her from running for another term this fall.Former Secretary of State Donetta Davidson, a Republican, ruled the partial term didn’t count as a full year because Fitz-Gerald’s partial term of 728 days was less than one-half of a term in office of 1,463 days. But last fall Republican Attorney General John Suthers ruled that a senator serves more than half a term in office if he’s sworn in on or before the first day of the third legislative session of the original term.Denver District Judge Catherine Lemon sided with Davidson on what a “half” is, citing Webster’s New World Dictionary.”The court concludes that ‘one half’ is a plain English term whose ordinary, popular meaning is ‘one of two equal parts’,” wrote Lemon, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Bill Owens in 2004.
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