Federal hearing set in Gordon saga

awomack@macon.comJuly 14, 2014 

GordonMayor

Gordon Mayor Mary Whipple-Lue gets back into her car after stopping by City Hall in June.

JASON VORHEES — jvorhees@macon.com Buy Photo

Complaints alleging that the mayor of Gordon’s civil rights were violated are set for a Tuesday hearing before a federal magistrate.

The filings contend that Mary Ann Whipple-Lue, Gordon’s suspended mayor, was denied her right to have an attorney present at two June hearings that resulted in her temporary removal from office, said Bobby Worthy, president of the Blackshear-based Justice League United civil rights organization.

Worthy’s complaints name Middle Circuit Superior Court Judge Robert Reeves, the judge in the case, as well as Terry Eady, Gordon’s mayor pro tem.

Eady, another councilman and several members of the Concerned Citizens of Gordon group filed suit in March seeking to remove Whipple-Lue from office. They alleged malfeasance and violations of the state’s Open Meetings law multiple times since she took office in January.

It’s unclear what will happen at Tuesday’s hearing.

U.S. Attorney Michael Moore, Middle Georgia’s chief federal prosecutor, said a person can’t file a criminal complaint with the court directly. A complaint can, however, be filed with the FBI.

Worthy, who also serves as a local minister of “law and justice” for the New Black Panther Party, said he hopes the hearing will result in Reeves’ arrest.

“He had a hearing without her attorney being there and without her present,” Worthy said. “That is conspiracy, when two or more people get together and deprive a person of a right that is secured by the U.S. Constitution.”

Worthy, who is not a lawyer, said a mayor can only be removed through a recall effort, by a governor or following a criminal indictment.

He contends Gordon’s city charter only allows for a temporary restraining order if irreversible harm is proven -- which he alleges hasn’t been shown because Whipple-Lue wasn’t present at the two hearings.

The Concerned Citizens group has maintained Gordon’s charter allows for the mayor’s removal from office on grounds of “incompetence, misfeasance or malfeasance” following a hearing in Superior Court.

Reeves declined comment Monday, citing the Code of Judicial Conduct, which prohibits judges from commenting on cases.

Eady said he hasn’t officially been notified of any charges. All he’s heard is from “the grapevine.”

He said he hasn’t been told to appear in court during Tuesday’s hearing.

“I’m not worried about anything,” Eady said.

Worthy said he planned to pick up about 50 of Whipple-Lue’s supporters Monday afternoon and travel to the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission’s office in Madison to file dozens of complaints against Reeves, seeking to remove him from office.

Although he estimated between 45 and 60 complaints would be filed, Worthy said each was substantively the same.

“It’s all surrounding what happened to Mayor Whipple-Lue,” he said.

The JQC is the state agency that investigates judges and can remove them from office.

JQC Chairman Robert Ingram said that while any person can file a complaint, the commission won’t release information about a complaint unless formal charges are filed.

JQC records don’t reflect any public actions taken against Reeves, who has been a Superior Court judge since 2007 in Candler, Emanuel, Jefferson, Toombs and Washington counties.

Worthy said he won’t rest until Reeves is punished.

“Before I die, I’m going to make sure, if it takes 10 years, that Judge Reeves is put in prison for what he did,” he said.

Whipple-Lue’s lawyer, Wayne Kendall said he isn’t a part of Worthy’s effort.

Asked whether Worthy’s actions could help or hurt the mayor, Kendall replied, “I don’t know what they’re doing. ... I haven’t had a real conversation with them about what they’re doing.”

Kendall filed an emergency motion with the Georgia Court of Appeals after Reeves issued a second 30-day temporary restraining order July 3. His motion was denied.

A hearing is scheduled next week to determine whether the suspension will continue until a final ruling is issued in the Concerned Citizens’ lawsuit.

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

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