AUGUSTA, Maine - The attorney for House Speaker Mark Eves is seeking an injunction against Gov. Paul LePaage, in Eves' appeal filed Wednesday with the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
The brief is an attempt to force the U.S. District Court to reconsider Eves' argument that the governor acted illegally when he threatened to withhold over $1 million in state funding to a private nonprofit unless the organization fired Eves as its president.
In May, District Court Judge George Singal dismissed Eves' case, saying, in essence, that the governor's actions in the Good Will-Hinckley controversy were protected by the so-called immunity clause. That's the legal concept that essentially protects elected officials from civil lawsuits.
But David Webbert, Eves' attorney, now argues that Singal erred when he ruled that judicial courts were not appropriate to resolve political disputes. Webbert, in a 131-page brief, wrote that federal courts have upheld civil rights lawsuits between political opponents.
Webbert is essentially asking the appeal court to void Singal's ruling and provide the legal framework to consider the case. In doing so, Webbert is focusing on a ruling that would "prevent LePage’s extreme view of gubernatorial power from becoming accepted as the norm in Maine politics."
A response brief from LePage is expected in about a month. Oral arguments before a three-judge panel could take place this fall.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected. Eves is not dropping his pursuit for monetary damages against LePage.