published Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Peter Murphy lawsuit dismissed


by Cliff Hightower
Peter Murphy
Peter Murphy
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Chancellor Frank Brown on Monday threw out a lawsuit filed by City Councilman Peter Murphy seeking a runoff election in the District 9 race.

Chris Clem, attorney for the Hamilton County Election Commission, said he received a personal fax from the judge Monday morning stating the case would be dismissed.

"It was a short fax," Clem said. "He said he didn't want the lawyers spending time throughout the day working on it."

A hearing was scheduled for this morning on the matter.

Murphy could not be reached for comment.

His opponent, Councilman-elect Yusuf Hakeem, said he is glad to put the matter behind him.

"It allows the community and District 9 to move forward," he said. "I can focus ... on the needs and concerns of District 9 and the city."

Murphy lost to Hakeem by six votes in the March 5 city election. Seven write-in votes had been cast, and Murphy at first argued those votes should be counted. Murphy filed the lawsuit, arguing the Hamilton County Election Commission had certified the election results with the write-in votes included, so there should be a runoff.

The City Charter states that a candidate must have 50 percent plus one vote to win. Had the write-in votes counted, Hakeem would not have the majority.

But Clem said Brown ruled the state law says any election disagreement has to be filed in court within five days. Murphy filed his lawsuit on the sixth day.

"He also said you don't count write-in votes," Clem said.

Brown's full opinion was unavailable by press time.

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