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Tisdale v. Clay

November 12, 1998

WILLIAM M. TISDALE
v.
WILCHIE CLAY, WILLIE A. COOK, CLOYD GARTH AND DEE RILEY, SERVING AS ALDERMEN OF THE CITY OF ABERDEEN IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL WARDS



Before Pittman, P.j., Roberts And Smith, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pittman, Presiding Justice

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/14/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. WILLIAM JOSEPH LUTZ

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MONROE COUNTY CHANCERY COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - OTHER

DISPOSITION AFFIRMED - 11/12/98

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

¶1. The appellant, William M. Tisdale (hereinafter "Mayor"), along with Robert D. Patterson, City Attorney at the time, and Kelly Tucker, one of the five members of the Board of Aldermen, filed suit for declaratory judgment against the appellees, Wilchie Clay, Willie A. Cook, Cloyd Garth and Dee Riley, the other four members of the Board of Aldermen (hereinafter "Aldermen"). Robert D. Patterson withdrew from the case before trial and Alderman Kelly Tucker declined to join in the appeal.

¶2. In his complaint for declaratory judgment, Mayor cited a dispute between Mayor and Aldermen as to which had the power to appoint the persons to serve as city attorney, municipal Judge, public defender, and the subordinate officers and department leaders of the City, and which had the authority to exercise direct supervisory control over the City employees and supervisors in each department, and which had the responsibility for the operations of the City. He asked the court to declare that Aberdeen's Special Charter, enacted in 1854, gives that authority to Mayor. Aldermen answered that Aldermen, not Mayor, have the prerogative and duty under the City Charter to appoint the city attorney, the city Judge and public defender, as well as the other subordinate officers.

¶3. The three Chancellors of the First Judicial District recused themselves and this Court subsequently appointed Honorable Bill Lutz, Chancellor of the Eleventh Chancery Court District, to preside and conduct the proceedings in this case.

¶4. After being advised by counsel for Mayor and for Aldermen that there were no issues of fact to be determined by the Court, Chancellor Lutz requested simultaneous briefs from both sides on the issues of law, stipulation of facts, and a stipulation of what to include in the trial record. Counsel for both sides agreed that the entire court file, the stipulations to Chancellor Lutz, and the simultaneous briefs of Counsel would comprise the record.

¶5. On August 14, 1997, Chancellor Lutz filed his Opinion and Judgment in which he held that the City Council, which consists of Mayor and Aldermen, have the authority to appoint the city attorney, city Judge, public defender and any other subordinate officer the Council determines is appropriate, and that the Council has the authority to establish the term of office for each officer. The Chancellor further held that the Mayor has the authority to appoint a replacement should a subordinate officer be unable to complete the term established for that subordinate office.

¶6. Aggrieved, Mayor filed this notice of appeal. Mayor raises four issues on appeal:

I. WHETHER SECTION 21 OF THE SPECIAL CHARTER OF THE CITY OF ABERDEEN GRANTS TO THE MAYOR THE USUAL POWERS INHERENT IN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT AS SET OUT IN ARTICLE I, SECTIONS ...


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