published Friday, October 8th, 2010

Recall group seeks change in ruling

by Cliff Hightower

A recall group that fought for an election to oust Mayor Ron Littlefield is now asking the Circuit Court judge who heard the case to change his mind.

“It’s asking the judge to reconsider his opinion,” said Jim Folkner of the group Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield.

The group filed a motion Thursday in Circuit Court for Hollingsworth to alter or amend his judgment. Hollingsworth ruled last month that a recall election could not take place because petitioners had not collected more than 15,000 signatures, the number required by state law.

Richard Beeland, spokesman for the mayor, said Thursday he could not say anything about the filing.

“I’m unable to comment because I haven’t seen anything,” he said.

Hal North, attorney for the mayor, could not be reached for comment. Hamilton County Election Commission Attorney Chris Clem also could not be reached.

The motion filed cites several court cases when asking for the judge’s reconsideration. The cases, all from Tennessee, cite instances in which lesser numbers were used to force a recall election.

The petitioners contend they only needed a little more than 9,000 signatures to force the election. But in his ruling, Hollingsworth said more than 5,000 of those signatures were invalid because they were not dated as required by law.

Folkner said he acknowledged it was too late to get the mayoral recall on the Nov. 2 general election ballot. But he said he hoped to force a special election or at least be considered for the next election.

“It’s never too late for good government,” he said. “It’s certainly too late for this election cycle.”


A hearing has been set to hear the motion at 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 18, in Circuit Judge Jeff Hollingsworth’s courtroom.

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fairmon said...

One has to wonder if a fair and unbiased ruling can be delivered by this judge? The effort of the petition organizer is applauded but this judge had the option of finding for the petitioners and the thousands that had not had an opportunity to sign a petition but would have.

Prior reports indicated that over 15,000 signatures were recorded and even with the rejections the number still met the 9,000 criteria. Most people just assume the ruling was local politics as usual, at it's worst or best, depending on your view.

Taxes increased, sewer and water quality fees increased, permit and inspection fees increased, unemployment increased, business failures increased, government staffing and compensation increased. The annual average income for a typical Chattanooga resident decreased, you can't expect everything to increase.

You got bad advice from the election commission, tough luck. You got a judge that may be sympathetic with the political powers, tough luck. You want police and fire personnel instead of arts and sculpture, tough luck. You want the gangs issue addressed, tough luck, you want people being annexed to have a say, tough luck. Over 15,000 people have expressed their unhappiness with their government, the judge says tough luck.

October 8, 2010 at 8:17 a.m.
BernieMacIsBack said...

Tennessee Code Annotated 2-5-151.

Petitions for recall, referendum or initiative.

(a) Any governmental entity having a charter provision for a petition forrecall, referendum or initiative or any person acting pursuant to such charter provision shall meet the requirements of this section.

(skip to (d) covers number required)

d) Petitions shall be signed by at least fifteen percent (15%) of those registered to vote in the municipality or county. The disqualification of one (1) or more signatures shall not render a petition invalid, but shall disqualify such signatures from being counted towards the statutory minimum number of signatures required in this section.

(Except that....skip to (j)

(j) This section shall control notwithstanding any statutory provision or charter provision of a municipality or county to the contrary; provided, that any contrary charter provision of a municipality or county which is enacted after July 1, 1997, shall control with respect only to the requirements set forth in subsection (d) relating to the statutory minimum number of signatures required in a petition.

Therefore the City Charter "Shall Control"

October 8, 2010 at 12:20 p.m.
BernieMacIsBack said...

Since when is an appeal heard by the exact same judge who made the ruling that is being appealed?

That is unheard of and stinks to high heaven of corruption.

It's a clear conflict of interest and should be heard by a different judge, as all appeals are.

Especially given the obvious, which is the judge who handed down the original ruling, Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth, has a vested interest in appearing correct with his original ruling.

What judge in their right mind would overturn their own ruling? Doing so would be he equivalent of admitting incompetency in applying the law in their original ruling.

Judge Jeff Hollingsworth should recuse himself from this and a different judge should make the decision.

One capable of objectively looking at the Tennessee Code Annotated 2-5-151 cited in the above comments, and applying it properly, which Hollingsworth failed to do.

There's no way on God's green earth that Hollingsworth can rule on the appeal with true impartiality. Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that.

October 8, 2010 at 12:24 p.m.
Allison12 said...

BernieMacisBack I have been through a circuit court appeal to the Knoxville Appeals Court, as a party to a lawsuit. It was pain and took about 9 months. The procedural rules mandate that the Judge must be given the opportunity to amend ruling before the appeals court will consider. They are just following the process to get to appeals court. Like your user name.

October 8, 2010 at 2:11 p.m.
dave said...

I think they should review what happened in McMinn County after WW2...the returning servicemen were fed up with the same old corruption and basically came armed to the courthouse and kicked the rascals out! Perhaps if we cannot be heard in a the proper way then it is time to try civil disobedience.


October 8, 2010 at 6:24 p.m.
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