Brandon Hall’s case should remain at the District Court level, Ottawa County Circuit Judge Jon Van Allsburg ruled Monday.
But the Michigan Attorney General’s Office has 21 days after the order is filed to ask for an appeal at the state level.
“The (Michigan) Court of Appeals has to decide whether it’s worth hearing,” said Hall's attorney, Donald Hann said. “And it could be months before they make that decision.”
Hall, 24, faces up to a $500 fine and/or up to 93 days in jail if convicted of the 10 counts of election law forgery he's been charge with at the misdemeanor level. A felony conviction would mean up to five years in prison.
Hall was originally charged with felonies after authorities determined he had forged signatures on several nominating petitions for 2012 judicial candidate Chris Houghtaling. With the signatures invalidated, Houghtaling did not have enough signatures to run for district judge in Ottawa County and his name was removed from the ballot.
Hann successfully argued in Ottawa County District Court that the petition forms state that forging someone’s signature is a misdemeanor.
Judge Bradley Knoll released an opinion in late October 2013, declining to bind the case over to Circuit Court.
The Attorney General’s office filed an appeal to that decision on Oct. 31. They also filed a motion to stay proceedings in November and that was granted. (The stay means the case at the District Court level is on hold until a decision is made on the appeal.)
Van Allsburg heard oral arguments on Monday.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.