Conflicting orders issued in Hayneville Municipal Election case

Published 3:02 pm Friday, July 7, 2017

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

Conflicting court orders have been issued in a civil case relating to the May 23 Hayneville Municipal Election to fill a vacant District A council seat.

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Lowndes County Circuit Court Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell declared on Friday, July 7 that the Hayneville Municipal election of May 23 to fill a vacant cancel seat, won by Carole C. Scrushy, is “illegal and void” and ordered the Hayneville Town Council to meet on Monday, July 10 at 7 p.m.

However, according to a copy of a court document, Lowndes County Probate Judge John E. Hulett issued an order on July 10th that the circuit judge (Lovell) has “no jurisdiction over any election matters unless an election contest has been filed.”

Hulett stated in his order, “There has not been an election contest filed in this case; therefor, all of the orders issued by the circuit judge in Case No. CV 2016-000013 are null and void.”

Also, according to Hulett’s order, “It is ordered judged and decreed that Carole Scrushy was duly elected by the citizens of Hayneville to serve on the council for District A.”

It continues, “She is declared to be a member in good standing as a council member for District A; and she shall forthwith be sworn in as a member of the Town Council and take her rightful place in that office.”

According to a copy of Lovell’s order issued July 7, “The court is of the opinion that the mayor of Hayneville willfully and deliberately chose not to follow the prior orders of this court requiring the town and its officials to strictly follow the Alabama statutes that government municipal elections.”

She cited the mayor’s admission that he and Council member Kim Payton failed to attend a single regularly scheduled council meeting in 2017, preventing any council action for lack of a quorum.

Lovell said in her order, “The sanctity of the election process requires strict adherence to the laws enacted by the Alabama Legislature governing the conduct of elections in Alabama.”

She also said in her order,” The mayor prevented the town council from performing its lawful duties regarding the special election because the mayor took upon himself to set the special election for May 23, 2017, without the knowledge or permission of the town council.”

Lovell continued, “The court has no choice other than to declare the May 23, 2017 election to be illegal and void; therefore, it is so ordered, adjudged and decreed.”

She further ordered Mayor David Daniel and Council members Kim Payton, Lula Tyson-Bailey, Sharon Reeves and Cynthia Perryman (McDonald) to appear at town hall on July 10 at 7 p.m. and “meet as a town council and conduct such business as the council chooses to conduct until the council meeting is either lawfully continued or adjourned.”

The order further states, “In the event any council person does not meet at the appointed time and conduct themselves in accord with this order, the absent member or members will subject themselves to contempt proceedings which may result in a monetary penalty or jail time, until such time as the council is able to meet with a quorum present, so the council can conduct the business of the town for the benefit of its citizens.”

Also, according to Lovell’s order, “The court expressly retains jurisdiction to enforce this and all previous orders regarding the issues in this case.”

The orders were issued regarding opposing motions in the case of Darshini Bandy, Connie Johnson and Justin Pouncey, plaintiffs, vs Carol(e) Schrushy, Kim Payton, Ricky Bell, George Lee Davis and Sheryl Delois Phiper as defendants.

The plaintiffs sought court orders “enjoining the mayor, the clerk, and the town council, its agents, servants and employees from issuing a certificate of election to Ms. Scrushy or do any other act that would result in Ms. Scrushy becoming a member of the Hayneville Town Council as a result of this illegal and void election.”

The town of Hayneville asked the court to “order adjudge and decree (Carole) Scrushy to be duly elected to serve on the town council for District A; to declare her a member in good standing as a council member for District A; and she shall forthwith be sworn in as a member of the town council and take her rightful place in that office…”

Plaintiffs were represented by attorney Jerry L. Thornton while the defendants were represented by attorney Michael G. Strickland. Also, represented at the hearing was the

Municipal Insurance Corporation by attorneys Rick Howard and Morgan Booker.

The town of Hayneville found itself with a vacant council following the August 2016 municipal elections when successful Hayneville Council candidate Roy Meadows was disqualified due to a past criminal record.

Prior to the May 23rd election, which was ultimately declared “illegal and void,” an earlier special election that was set for March 21 was cancelled after the court found that election date was defective.