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Judge to hear final arguments on Bates’ residency Friday

Ivan J. Bates (File photo)

Ivan J. Bates (File photo)

A Baltimore judge is expected to rule Friday on a challenge to state’s attorney candidate Ivan Bates’ residency after hearing testimony Thursday afternoon.

Baltimore resident Kristien Miller is arguing that Bates moved to Howard County in 2012 where he owned a home, lived and voted, which showed an intention to be domiciled there.

Bates purchased a home in Baltimore in late 2015, but Miller contends he did not “perfect” his intent to change his domicile again by Nov. 6, 2016, the date two years before the general election.

Thiru Vignarajah, another candidate for the office who faced his own residency challenge Tuesday, entered his appearance in the case for Miller, who has donated to his campaign. Vignarajah argued the earliest date Bates could prove he moved back to Baltimore was sometime in early 2017 when he applied for a homestead tax credit and changed the mailing address on his voter registration from his home in Laurel to the Baltimore address.

“The plaintiff takes no pleasure in making a dispute of this matter,” said Vignarajah, of DLA Piper US LLP. Baltimore City Circuit Judge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill dismissed the challenge to candidate Vignarajah’s residency, ruling he was domiciled in the city.

Bates contends he never abandoned his domicile in Baltimore, where he has owned property since 1997. Even if he did establish domicile in Howard County, Bates said he re-established it in the city in early 2016 when he and his family moved to the new home and he registered to vote.

“His domicile actually never left Baltimore city,” said attorney Thomas M. Donnelly, who represents Bates along with Kristin Tracy.

The complaint against Bates mentions comments he made last year that he recently had moved back to the city, but Bates said he was misquoted in that story.

Bates described the move to Howard County as a temporary relocation while he purchased a home for his parents — he had it outfitted for his mother, who uses a wheelchair — which also served as a stable environment for his new wife’s stepdaughter, whose father shared custody and lived nearby.

“We wanted to keep her in as stable an environment as possible,” he said. “My parents were the hub.”

A neighbor testified he met Bates in early 2016 and has seen him coming and going from the Baltimore home since then. He described seeing Bates out jogging, at neighborhood events or in passing.

Plaintiff’s attorney Ellery Johannessen, of Goitein Law LLC in Bethesda, questioned Bates on his homestead tax credit in Howard County, which was approved the year he bought the property, the delay in transferring the credit to the Baltimore home until 2017 and affirmations he made on various tax and loan documents about where he was making his home during those years.

Bates said the tax credit in Howard County was done with the sale and he believed it would be transferred back when he bought the Baltimore property. He learned it had not and contacted the state, eventually retaining an attorney.

Fletcher-Hill said he will hear arguments, either on the defense motion for judgment or on the merits, Friday morning.

The case is Kristien Miller v. Ivan J. Bates Esq., 24c18001310.

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