Gordon mayor files motion to dismiss suit seeking her removal

awomack@macon.comApril 11, 2014 

A lawyer representing Gordon Mayor Mary Ann Whipple-Lue has filed a motion to dismiss the suit brought by constituents who are trying to remove her from office.

Whipple-Lue’s lawyer, Wayne Kendall, also filed an answer to the lawsuit this week in Wilkinson County Superior Court.

The mayor disputes claims of malfeasance and violations of Georgia’s Open Meetings Act brought by two city councilmen and members of the Concerned Citizens of Gordon group, according to the documents.

Kendall said the lawsuit, filed solely against Whipple-Lue, was improperly filed because the open meetings law applies to an agency, not a “single officeholder.”

He also contends that the law doesn’t provide for plaintiffs to recover damages. Any fines or penalties must be awarded to a government entity, he said.

Kendall additionally argued that the mayor is entitled to immunity for actions taken within the scope of her elected office without “willfullness, malice or corruption.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Devlin Cooper, said Friday, regardless of who receives any potential fines or penalties, the law was amended in 2012 to allow residents to file lawsuits for alleged violations.

As for Kendall’s argument that the lawsuit was improperly filed, Cooper said it’s clear that the act covers any person who participates in or conducts a meeting in violation of the act.

He said the law allows plaintiffs to choose who they sue, and he doesn’t dispute they could have also filed a lawsuit against the council.

Instead, they chose to pursue legal action against the mayor.

“The point of the lawsuit is to have her removed,” Cooper said.

The city charter allows a mayor to be removed from office on grounds of “incompetence, misfeasance or malfeasance” in office.

The removal can be accomplished by an order from a Superior Court judge after a hearing on a complaint seeking removal.

No hearing date has been set for the case.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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