On the eve of Gordon Mayor Mary Ann Whipple-Lue’s suspension ending, the Georgia Court of Appeals has ruled that a lower court judge can hold a hearing in the case.
A hearing to determine whether Whipple-Lue’s temporary restraining order should be reinstated is set for Thursday morning in Swainsboro, the home base for Middle Judicial Circuit Judge Robert Reeves, who is presiding in the case. Wilkinson County’s judges disqualified themselves from the conflict.
Two city councilmen and a group calling itself the Concerned Citizens of Gordon filed suit early this year seeking Whipple-Lue’s removal from office. They alleged malfeasance and multiple violations of the state’s Open Meetings Act.
Reeves issued a June 2 restraining order that temporarily removed Whipple-Lue from office. That restraining order expired late Wednesday afternoon.
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The mayor’s attorney, Wayne Kendall, filed an emergency motion with the Georgia Court of Appeals on June 19 seeking to ban Reeves from making any more decisions in the case. He alleged that the judge is biased and didn’t have authority to issue the restraining order because a prior ruling in the case was under appeal.
The appellate court granted Kendall’s motion June 20, paving the way for Whipple-Lue to return to office Thursday, barring any other court rulings.
Devlin Cooper, a Macon lawyer representing the city councilmen and Concerned Citizens of Gordon, filed a motion for reconsideration with the court, asking for the ruling to be clarified.
The court denied the motion Wednesday, but it ruled that the trial court still has jurisdiction for matters not covered by Kendall’s initial appeal.
Reeves can hold a hearing on the temporary restraining order, Cooper said.
A phone message left for Kendall wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.