Campaign officials for an East Baton Rouge district judge incapacitated by the novel coronavirus filed paperwork Friday to place him on the Nov. 3 ballot after the state Supreme Court ruled that extraordinary circumstances caused by a worldwide pandemic shouldn't disqualify him.
Judge Chip Moore of the 19th Judicial District has been hospitalized since early July and has not been able to sign the paperwork necessary to place his name before voters. The state Supreme Court said his campaign chairman could sign the documents for now and that Moore can add his signature later.
In their unsigned order, the justices overturned both the chief judge in Moore's home district and the state's 1st Circuit Court of Appeal. The lower courts each said this week that Moore, despite being on a ventilator at a hospital, would have the sign the paperwork himself if he wanted to run again for his judgeship this fall.
"In light of the highly unusual circumstances presented in this matter related to the ongoing global pandemic caused by COVID-19 and the fact that but for the current medical status of the candidate related to COVID-19 the candidate would have signed the certificate of candidacy, we reverse the lower courts," the court declared.
Judge Wilson Fields, the chief judge of the 19th Judicial District Court, had rejected Moore's campaign on Thursday morning and the 1st Circuit turned it down Thursday night. Justices on Friday cited a 2005 case that had declared "election laws must be interpreted to give the electorate the widest possible choice of candidates.”
The high court ruled that Moore’s committee chairman could sign the paperwork to qualify in his place. Moore himself will have to sign his own paperwork by Nov. 2, which is the day before Election Day, the justices ruled.
Moore's name was added to the Secretary of State's candidate list at midday Friday. Two people had filed paperwork Thursday to seek Moore's spot on the 19th Judicial District Court. Dale Glover and Jennifer Moisant, both Democrats, are also seeking the Division N seat.
The judge's lawyer said the Supreme Court provided "justice for Chip in his moment of greatest peril. ... We want to thank God and all of Chip’s friends who have helped us through this ordeal,” Beau James Brock said.
Lori Palmintier, the campaign's treasurer, said a non-partisan effort worked to help restore Moore to the ballot.
“We have been very blessed to have received help in this effort from Republicans and Democrats alike who all love Chip," she said.
Moore, 55, has been hospitalized since July 2. His campaign said his health had been improving but he has remained unable to use his arms to the extent necessary to sign a document. The East Baton Rouge Parish clerk of court's office said candidates are not required to appear in person, but they are required to sign the paperwork themselves.
The judge is a former Zachary city prosecutor and has been on the bench since April 2005.
Staff writer Joe Gyan contributed to this report.