A Georgia Court of Appeals ruling issued Friday means suspended Gordon Mayor Mary Whipple-Lue will return to office July 3, according to her attorney, pending the final outcome of the case.
Also, the judge who suspended her cannot make any further rulings in the case, said Wayne Kendall, Whipple-Lues attorney.
Middle Circuit Superior Court Judge Robert Reeves issued a temporary restraining order June 2 that suspended her from office. That was set to expire July 2, Kendall said. A hearing had been scheduled for Tuesday that could have extended the suspension, but with the court barring Reeves from making any further ruling, Whipple-Lues suspension effectively ends on July 2.
Kendall filed an emergency motion Thursday seeking to ban Reeves from the case on the grounds that he was biased. The motion also argued that Reeves did not have the authority to issue the restraining order because the case had already been appealed.
On Friday the court issued a ruling agreeing with the motion.
Devlin Cooper, the lawyer representing two city council members and residents who filed a lawsuit seeking the mayors ouster, said he plans to file a motion for reconsideration Monday. The group has argued Whipple-Lue should be removed from office on grounds of malfeasance and violation of open meetings laws. The lawsuit remains pending.
Cooper said he disputes whether the courts ruling affects Reeves ability to hold an interlocutory injunction hearing, the hearing previously set for Tuesday.
Kendall said his emergency motion was filed primarily because he would have been unable to attend Tuesdays hearing due to an out-of-country trip that had already been scheduled and couldnt be changed. Whipple-Lue did not want to have the suspension extended beyond July 2 for a new hearing date.
Staff writer Amy Leigh Womack contributed to this report.