07 28 2014

Councilwoman Seeks New Trial

By Larry Briscoe
Editor
West Tawakoni Councilwoman Carol Solomon is seeking a new trial in a case that claimed official misconduct against her.
Solomon said Tuesday her attorney, Tim Brightman of McKinney, filed a motion Dec. 21 in Hunt County 196th District Court of Judge Steve Tittle asking for a new trial and to “dismiss removal action as moot.” She said the part of the motion that sought to dismiss the removal action had “to do with the fact the judge ordered immediate removal” after a jury agreed with the official misconduct allegation.
Solomon was removed from her council position Oct. 18 by a judgment signed by Judge Tittle after a jury’s decision in the civil suit that was filed by former mayor Pete Yoho
Solomon ran unopposed and received 218 votes at the November election to win reelection to her Place 4 seat on the council.
She claims in her motion since no evidence of misconduct would be admissible regarding conduct that was alleged to have occurred before election to the new term, the instant removal action should be dismissed as moot.
The councilwoman cited the Forgiveness Doctrine as outlined in Section 21.024 of the Texas Local Government Code as the basis for the motion.
The code states, “No Removal Before Action. An officer may not be removed under this subchapter for an act the officer committed before election to office if the act was a matter of public record or otherwise known to the voters.”
She said her motion claims, “Since no evidence of misconduct would be admissible regarding conduct that is alleged to have occurred prior to election to the new term, the instant removal action should be dismissed as moot.”
A hearing on the motion is set Jan. 15 at 9 a.m.
Solomon also appealed the jury’s decision that is awaiting a decision by the Texas Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Dallas.
Travers meets with attorney
Mayor Calvin Travers is expected to call for a vote to rescind action taken at last month’s council meeting at the next council session. The council voted 2-2 on a motion by Councilman Chuck Calkins to table any agenda item that would put the city at risk on which Solomon would vote before her appeal was decided.
Travers was forced to break the tie and voted in favor of the motion.
He said Tuesday however that the first action at next week’s council meeting would be a vote to rescind action. “Quite frankly, I was inexperienced,” he said of the decision.
Also at last month’s council meeting, Travers announced that he had spoken with District Attorney Noble Walker Jr. concerning Solomon’s service on the council while the case was on appeal.
“His opinion was she could be seated because the case is on appeal,” Travers said. The mayor said Walker recommended further checking with the city attorney because he would be more familiar with municipal law since the district attorney’s responsibilities were usually criminal law.”
Travers had not heard from the city attorney prior to that meeting, however, he said Tuesday that he and City Administrator Susan Roberts had met with him for an hour since the earlier council meeting.
“It was his opinion that she could definitely sit in her seat,” Mayor Travers said.
The mayor said he also requested that he secure an attorney general’s opinion in the matter. He would be surprised if the opinion were given before the next meeting because of the holidays. He explained that state procedure is for the opinion to officially be requested by the county attorney.
Travers said what made the matter so difficult to decide was the lack of precedent. He said there was no previous case law to consider. “It is different than anything that has happened in Texas,” he said.
He said when the attorney general handed down his opinion on the West Tawakoni case, it was expected to be the one referenced in future cases.
Travers said it was the opinion of the city attorney, district attorney and Judge Tittle that Solomon had every right to set in her council seat. “I feel 99 percent sure there is no issue there,” he said.

 

 

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