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Gerson Testifies Before Court Referee

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We just heard from Lawrence Mandelker, the attorney representing Councilman Alan Gerson in State Supreme Court. As we reported earlier, a referee is sorting through the disputed facts in two lawsuits — one filed by Gerson against the Board of Elections, and the other a suit filed by challenger Pete Gleason against Gerson.

Mandelker argued today that Gerson fulfilled the requirements of state law and of the city's Election Board, in spite of the Board's ruling that his petition is invalid. He said the campaign made a "typographical error" on a cover sheet attached to one volume, incorrectly listing Gerson's address as 1505 Laguardia Place, rather than 505 Laguardia Place. Mandelker contends that since 1505 Laguardia is an address that does not exist – and since Gerson submitted more than 7-thousand signatures (far more than the required 900), it amounted to an inconsequential error.

He argued that since state law only calls for "substantial compliance" and is meant to prevent fraud, the Board should not have called on Gerson to file an amended cover sheet. Mandelker rejects the Gleason campaign's suggestion that the manner in which the amended cover sheet was filed, invalidated the entire petition. Gleason attorney Ray Dowd alleges that Gerson went down to the Election Board's office to correct the error himself, and in so doing, committed fraud. But testifying today, Gerson said he did not handle the issue personally.

The Gleason campaign will present its case on Thursday. Meanwhile, Mandelker will appear before the Board of Elections tomorrow morning to argue a narrow point — that rather than invalidating the entire petition, only those pages affected by the wrong address should be discounted.

We placed a call to the Gleason campaign earlier today. We'll update if we hear back this evening.

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