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UNITED STATES v. INTL. BHD. OF TEAMSTERS

July 12, 1996

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, - against - INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN AND HELPERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, et al., Defendants. IN RE: ELECTION OFFICER APPLICATION V


The opinion of the court was delivered by: EDELSTEIN

 EDELSTEIN, District Judge:

 By Stipulation and Order dated February 7, 1995, the Consent Decree was amended to reflect the parties' agreement regarding the means of implementing Paragraph 12(D)(ix) of the Consent Decree, which pertains to supervision of the 1995-96 IBT election. See Stipulation & Order Implementing Paragraph 12(D)(ix) of the March 19, 1989 Consent Decree (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 7, 1995) ("the February 7, 1995 Order"). The February 7, 1995 Order states that "it is the intention of the Government and the IBT that the Election Officer function in 1996 as similarly as possible to the 1991 Election Officer," id. at 2, and it confers upon the Election Officer "all rights and duties conferred upon the 1991 Election Officer by paragraph 12 of the Consent Decree," id. P 1, including "the authority granted by Paragraph 12(I) of the Consent Decree to make applications to the Court, after giving notice to specified parties." Id. P 3(c). Pursuant to her authority under the Consent Decree, the Election Officer promulgated Rules for the 1995-1996 IBT International Union Delegate and Officer Election ("the Election Rules"), which this Court approved in their entirety. United States v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, et al., 896 F. Supp. 1339, 1348 (S.D.N.Y. 1995), aff'd as modified, 86 F.3d 271, 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 14278, 1996 WL 316635 (2d Cir. 1996). The Election Officer also promulgated Supplementary Election Officer Rules for the 1996 IBT Convention Floor Nominations and Nomination Voting ("the Convention Rules"), which were approved by this Court in their entirety. United States v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, et al., 88 Civ. 4486, Order (S.D.N.Y. May 23, 1996). Both the Election Rules and the Convention Rules establish a set of procedures that are designed to ensure that the 1996 IBT Convention ("the Convention"), which will be held on July 15-19 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will be conducted in an open, honest, and democratic fashion.

 Currently before this Court is Election Officer Application V, in which the Election Officer seeks an Order from this Court enjoining "the IBT, its members and affiliates . . . from seeking to implement any Constitutional amendment which would require a debate among candidates for International office at the 1996 Convention." (Memorandum of Law in Support of Election Officer Application V for an Order Enjoining Interference with Her Supervisory Authority ("EO's Memo") at 17 (July 8, 1996).) The Election Officer represents that James P. Hoffa ("Hoffa") has proposed an amendment to the IBT Constitution that seeks "to compel a debate among candidates for general president of the IBT." Id. at 2. The proposed amendment states:

 
If more than one member is nominated for the office of General President, a debate shall be conducted among the members so nominated at a plenary session on the fifth day of the Convention. The debate shall be for a total of one (1) hour and shall be videotaped. Each candidate shall be allowed a five (5) minute opening statement, a two (2) minute rebuttal to opening statement(s) and a three (3) minute closing statement. During the remaining time, the nominees shall respond to questions drawn at random from those deposited by the delegates in a clear-sided receptacle maintained in front of the podium in open view. Each candidate shall be given two (2) minutes to respond to each question and the order of responding to the questions shall alternate between or rotate among the nominees as the case may be. The nominee nominated with the highest number of delegate votes shall have the choice of order with respect to both opening and closing statements. The nominee nominated with the second highest number of delegate votes shall have the second choice and so on. The General Secretary-Treasurer shall cause copies of the videotape to be made and distributed to each Local Union and all other affiliates within two (2) weeks of the close of the Convention. The General Secretary-Treasurer shall make additional copies of the tape available to members at cost upon written request.

 (Attached as Exhibit 3 to Declaration of Barbara Zack Quindel in Support of Election Officer Application V (July 8, 1996).) The Election Officer asserts that such an amendment would interfere with the Election Officer's exclusive authority to establish the rules that govern the IBT Convention. (EO's Memo at 2.) The Election Officer contends that the amendment proposed by Hoffa ("the proposed amendment") "is a clear and direct intrusion upon the authority and discretion of the Election Officer and therefore cannot be permitted to apply to the 1996 election." Id. at 2-3.

 The Election Officer sought to bring the instant Application by Order To Show Cause, arguing that immediate relief from this Court was necessary in light of the fact that the Convention is scheduled to commence on July 15. On July 9, 1996, this Court signed an Order To Show Cause, ordering:

 
the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York ("the Government"), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and James P. Hoffa, Jr., by their respective attorneys who are admitted to practice before this Court, shall appear before this Court, in Courtroom 1105 of the United States Courthouse, Foley Square, New York, New York, on July 10, 1996, at 2:30 p.m. to show cause why this Court should not enter an Order: (1) enjoining the IBT and any members thereof from interfering with the Election Officer's supervisory authority by attempting to implement a constitutional amendment that convenes or compels a debate among candidates for International office during the 1996 IBT International Convention; and (ii) awarding the Election Officer such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.

 United States v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, et al., 88 Civ. 4486, Order To Show Cause (July 9, 1996). Prior to the hearing contemplated in this Court's July 9, 1996, Order To Show Cause, this Court received memoranda of law from the Government and Hoffa's attorney, respectively. (Government's Memorandum of Law in Support of Election Officer Application No. V (For an Order Enjoining Interference with the Election Officer's Supervisory Authority) ("Govt. Memo") (July 10, 1996)); (Memorandum of Law in Response to Order To Show Cause on Behalf of James P. Hoffa ("Hoffa's Memo") (July 9, 1996).) On July 10, 1996, this Court conducted a hearing and heard argument from the Election Officer, the Government, the IBT, and counsel for Hoffa. This Court reserved decision.

 The Election Officer represents that the proposed amendment improperly infringes on her authority. The Election Officer contends that "the fundamental problem with the proposed debate amendment is that it intrudes upon the broad authority of the Election Officer to supervise all facets of the International officer elections." (EO's Memo at 9-10.) The Election Officer argues that under the decisions of this Court and the Second Circuit, "the Election Officer has substantial discretion in setting the Election Rules, as well as in taking any other necessary actions to insure free and fair elections." Id. at 11. The Election Officer asserts that "pursuant to this broad authority, the Election Officer has extensively regulated the election process through the promulgation of detailed and comprehensive rules." Id. The Election Officer contends that the proposed amendment conflicts with Article VIII, section 6 of the Election Rules, which states in relevant part: "The Election Officer may schedule and conduct International Officer candidate forums." In her memorandum of law, the Election Officer argues that the proposed amendment "directly conflicts with Article VIII[,] § 6 in two respects. First the amendment usurps the discretion of the Election Officer to schedule and conduct forums and mandates that a particular type of forum--a debate--be held at the time of the Convention, subject to explicit rules as to how it will be conducted. Secondly, under the amendment, the IBT, and not the Election Officer, would conduct the debate." (EO's Memo at 13-14.) The Election Officer reiterated these arguments in open Court. (United States v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, et al., 88 Civ. 4486, Transcript of Hearing ("TR.") at 5-6 (July 10, 1996).)

 The Government has expressed support for the Election Officer's Application. The Government contends that "under the Consent Decree, the Election Officer has complete supervisory authority over the 1996 IBT election." (Govt. Memo at 3.) The Government asserts that "under the Consent Decree, the Election Officer is entrusted to determine the best manner in which to conduct a free, fair, democratic and informed election." (Govt. Memo at 4-5 (citing United States v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, et al., 86 F.3d 271, 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 14278, 1996 WL 316635, at *2 (2d Cir. 1996)).) The Government argues that "in approving the 1996 Election Rules, this Court and the Second Circuit rejected challenges based on disagreements with the Election Officer over the best way to conduct the election." Id. at 5.

 The Government further contends that Hoffa is mistaken in arguing that the Convention is a "supreme authority" with regard to Election Rules. The Government asserts that "this Court and the Second Circuit . . . have already conclusively determined that the IBT Convention is not the 'supreme authority' with respect to matters arising under the Consent Decree." (Govt. Memo at 6 (citing United States v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, et al., 764 F. Supp. 787, 792 (S.D.N.Y.), aff'd, 940 F.2d 648 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 819, 116 L. Ed. 2d 50, 112 S. Ct. 76 (1991)).)

 The Government agrees with the Election Officer that the proposed amendment "interferes with the Election Officer's supervision of the 1996 election." (Govt. Memo at 8.) Like the Election Officer, the Government asserts that the proposed amendment is inconsistent with Article VIII, section 6 of the Election Rules. Id. 8-9. Moreover, the Government argues that "even if the 1996 Election Rules had not specifically set forth a rule regarding candidate forums, the Convention would still not be free to impose a forum or debate requirement." Id. at 9. The Government contends that the entire 1996 IBT Elections are governed by the Election Rules and the supplementary rules promulgated by the Election Officer, and that such rules "reflect the choices made by the Election Officer in her discretion as to what to include and what not to include in the rules governing the election." Id. The Government argues that the fact that the Election Rules do not to include a rule providing for debate at the Convention--as the proposed amendment provides for--demonstrates that the ...


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