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Judge splits lawsuits challenging state senators' election

MONTGOMERY (AP) — A Montgomery judge split two lawsuits challenging the election of five Democratic state senators, ruling Monday the cases involving campaign finance reports are too diffe-
rent.

Circuit Judge Charles Price sent the suit challenging the election of state Sen. Larry Means, D-Attalla, to Circuit Judge Gene Reese to handle.

Price will still handle the suit challenging the election of Democratic Sens. Lowell Barron of Fyffe, Zeb Little of Cullman, Roger Bedford of Russellville and Hank Sanders of Selma.

His write-in opponent from the Nov. 7 election, Jack Lowe Jr. of Gadsden, filed the suit against Means.

Lowe's attorney, Mark White of Birmingham, said Means' case involves campaign finance forms for the general election, while the other four senators' case involves campaign finance forms from the Democratic primary. The secretary of state didn't issue a certificate of election for Means, but she did for the other four senators.

White said Price's decision to separate the cases should speed up their handling in court. "He has practiced the epitome of judicial economy," White said.

Means' attorneys, Matt Lembke and Terry Butts, said they never understood why the plaintiff asked to have the cases consolidated in the first place, and the separation of the cases will help resolve the issues quicker.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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