published Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Recall opinion expected today


by Cliff Hightower

A Hamilton County judge will rule today on whether he had the authority to block a recall of Mayor Ron Littlefield.

Standing in the courtroom Tuesday, attorney Harry Burnette told the Circuit Court Judge Hollingsworth that he never should have made the decision.

“It’s nice that these folks asked you to do something you can’t do,” said Burnette, representing Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield. “But you don’t have jurisdiction.”

Hollingsworth’s ruling last month effectively blocked a recall of Littlefield. He said state law trumped the City Charter and that recall petitioners did not have more than 15,000 signatures needed to force a question to recall the mayor on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

Attorneys for the recall effort said Monday that a judge has no authority to block an election. They argued that the Election Commission is the only body with the authority to determine whether an election will be held.

Hollingsworth told the attorneys that evidence showed that the petitioners did not have enough signatures and many were thrown out for being invalid. He said it appeared as though the petitioners wanted to hold an election, then find out if the election was valid under state law.

“That doesn’t make any sense to me,” Hollingsworth said.

Frank Pinchack, another attorney for Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, said there are several previous rulings in the Tennessee courts showing that judges have no authority to stop an election.

Tom Greenholz, Littlefield’s attorney, said he agreed with the judge.

The petitioners “seem to say we can have an unlawful election,” Greenholz said.

Jim Folkner of Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield said after the hearing that he wanted to know who holds the most power.

“If a judge can stop an election, then who rules, the judge or the people?” he asked.



WHAT’S NEXT

A Circuit Court judge will rule today on whether he held jurisdiction over a decision not to allow a question on the November ballot to recall Mayor Ron Littlefield.

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