Flowers’ camp gets restraining order issued

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 21, 2002

BNI Newswire

MONTGOMERY – Montgomery Circuit Judge Charles Price issued a temporary restraining order Thursday afternoon, keeping former State Representative Steve Flowers on the ballot for the Senate District 14 race.

Price agreed with former Supreme Court Chief Justice Perry Hooper, Sr., who was representing Flowers, in the argument that the deadline had passed for the Republican Party to send a list of certified candidates to the Secretary of State; no later than 5 p.m. on April 10, which was 55 days prior to the June 4 GOP primary. The party did not meet the deadline.

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The decision halts the changing of the ballot to remove Flowers’ name and delays the shipping of the ballots to Probate Judge offices throughout the state.

"We are very happy with what happened today," Flowers said Thursday night. "We spent nearly all day in court today and I didn’t mind it because we were winning."

According to Chilton County Probate Judge Bobby Martin, counties are supposed to send out absentee ballots – completed ballots – no later than April 25.

The final decision on the matter of Flowers’ name on the ballot will be resolved during a hearing in front of Price on Monday, April 22 at 8:30 a.m.

During Thursday’s hearing, Hooper took issue with the Republican committee who ruled to disqualify Flowers during a hearing on Monday.

Hooper argued the information submitted by SDI Inc., a Vestavia Hills private investigation firm, was obtained through illegal means.

In an affidavit obtained by The Clanton Advertiser Thursday, a painter who was working in the Flowers’ home at the time the investigators came into the house, claimed they misrepresented themselves as contractors and even went through the Flowers family mailbox and personal mail.

"That is absolutely absurd," said David Dyer with SDI Inc. "We did not such thing. We did not misrepresent ourselves as contractors. We simply asked the painter if we could come in and take pictures. He had no objections."

In the sworn testimony presented by the painter, Ronald E. Criss, the investigators "never went through the whole house and they definitely didn’t go downstairs."

The evidence collected by the firm was presented to the Republican committee Monday and ultimately led to their decision to disqualify Flowers over his inability to prove he resided in the district for one year.

"The information given them was skewed an obtained illegally," Flowers said in an earlier interview.

As for Dyer, he said they took pictures of the entire house and presented a complete report. Dyer was not allowed in the hearing Monday, but rather gave the report to Hoover attorney Gary Cody. The Clanton Advertiser was not able to reach Cody for comments on Thursday.

"It feels real good to have the truth presented in a report we worked on," Dyer said, although he would not comment if he was one of the two men to have entered Flowers home on April 10. "If he wants to claim he lives there – that’s fine. The pictures we presented portray a vacant house."

Criss’ testimony reinforces Flowers’ claims he lived in the home.

"These guys never made it through the entire house and they did not even go to the downstairs living quarters where the Flowers have been sleeping while we worked on the main level and the upstairs," Criss said of the investigators.

Dyer also claims he had no connection with any of Flowers’ senate race opponents or Carlton LeMond, the Montevallo man who filed the initial complaint on Flowers with the Alabama Republican Party.

"I have no idea who you are talking about," Dyer said when asked if he knew LeMond. "No one paid us to do this. We had an opportunity to give back to the community by proving in photos that there was deception going on as to where Mr. Flowers was living."

During the Monday hearing, the committee asked LeMond who had paid for the investigative services and report. On two separate occasions he claimed he had paid for the services.

Flowers has also filed suit against SDI Inc. in civil court.

"These people need not only to be sued but also arrested," Hooper said. "A man’s home is his castle."

The place of the family’s residency is the key to the party’s decision to disqualify Flowers. Attorney Bert Jordan, who represented Flowers before the committee, made the case the law is clear.

The ruling on Monday will not decide if Flowers is to remain a qualified candidate for the District 14 race.