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December 22, 2008

Nader: Not

Image Poor Ralph Nader. He's long since lost his political luster, and on Monday a federal judge once again tossed Nader's legal claims against the Democratic National Committee.

Nader's claims arose following his unsuccessful 2004 presidential bid, when his 698,000 votes weren't enough to let him play even the role of an election spoiler. Nader, as U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina summarized Monday, thereupon "instituted a flurry of litigation alleging that the (Democratic National Committee)  conspired to 'launch a massive, nationwide unlawful assault on (Nader’s] candidacy, using unfounded litigation to harass, obstruct and drain his campaign of resources, deny him ballot access and effectively prevent him from running for public office.'"

Note the judge's characterization: a flurry of litigation. One senses a certain, ummm, foreshadowing of judicial sentiment in that, eh?

Last May, Judge Urbina dismissed Nader's original suit. Nader amended it, and there then followed a series of amendments and dismissal efforts. Most recently, it all came down to claims of res judicata, that really great phrase for the doctrine designed to prevent repetitious litigation over settled issues. Nader argued that because the original dismissal order is on appeal, it is not a final judgment and therefore not covered by the res judicata doctrine.

Nice try; no dice. Judge Urbina determined that the claims in the latest amended lawsuit "shared the same nucleus of facts" as in the previous lawsuit. Judge Urbina further noted that it is "well settled" law that a pending appeal does not the diminish the res judicata effect of a lower court's judgment.


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"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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