Lovell to decide Hayneville municipal election case

Published 1:40 pm Wednesday, May 2, 2018

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By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

Is Justin Pouncey duly appointed to the Hayneville Town Council? Will a new municipal election have to be held to fill the seat Pouncey now holds?

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Those are a couple of the questions Lowndes County 2nd Judicial Circuit Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell will answer when she rules in an ongoing civil matter regarding an election to fill a vacant council seat, now held by Pouncey. A hearing in the case was held in Lowndes County Circuit Court on Wednesday, May 2.

Recently, in a special council meeting, Pouncey was appointed to fill a council seat that had been held by Carole C. Scrushy.

Voting in favor of Pouncey were Council members Lula Tyson-Bailey, Cynthia McDonald and Sharon Reeves. Voting against were Mayor David Daniel and Kim Payton.

The vote to appoint Pouncey came on the heels of an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that upheld a previous ruling by Lovell that the May 23, 2017 election of Scrushy was illegal and void.

Hayneville Town Attorney Michael G. Strickland said at the time, the meeting at which Pouncey was appointed was a special call meeting to set the dates for an election to fill the vacant seat and to vote on a municipal upgrade project only.

He said, “Only those items on the agenda can be voted on especially at special call meetings.”

Strickland then said the town would seek an opinion from the League of Municipalities and the approval of Lovell.

The issues now to be decided by Lovell arise from an ongoing civil case CV-16-13, with attorney Jerry Thornton representing the plaintiffs Darshini Bandy, Connie Johnson and Justin Pouncey and Michael G. Strickland representing the defendants Carole C. Scrushy, Kim Payton, Rickey, Bell, George Davis and Sheryl Phifer.

Strickland and attorney Rick A. Howard also represented Carole C. Scrushy and the Town of Hayneville in seeking a writ of mandamus in the matter from the Alabama Supreme Court which was denied.

The State Supreme Court concluded “that the circuit court had the power to enforce its prior orders and to void the May 23, 2017, special election, which, the court found, had not been ordered in strict compliance with the State’s election laws.”

At the Wednesday May 2nd hearing, Howard  represented the town of Hayneville in the absence of Strickland.

Howard argued Wednesday that an election would be the only way to settle the matter. But Thornton argued that the town, “had their chance at an election and they blew it.”

He said of Pouncey’s appointment by the council, “There was a vote for Pouncey three-two and everyone participated.”

Among questions Lovell asked during the hearing were if Pouncey’s appointment by the council was not valid, how does one address the votes made by Scrushy made when supreme court upheld her ruling that Scrushy’s election was invalid?

Among those in the courtroom for the hearing were Daniel and Hayneville Town Clerk Susie Smith and Council members Sharon Reeves and Lula Tyson-Bailey.

Both Howard and Thornton declined to comment.