Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield seeks rehearing in recall case

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield seeks rehearing in recall case

November 10th, 2011 by Judy Walton and Ansley Haman in News

Former Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield

Former Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

POLL: Should the recall effort for Mayor Littlefield proceed?

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield has asked the Tennessee Court of Appeals to rehear a case the court dismissed last week.

Attorneys for Littlefield shipped his petition for rehearing Tuesday, arguing that the court's dismissal "misapprehends" facts agreed on by all the parties to the case. The petition also argues that the trial court may issue a declaratory judgment against an election commission in a situation like the one Littlefield faced.

In the summer of 2010, Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, Chattanooga Organized for Action and the Chattanooga Tea Party began a campaign to oust the mayor. The groups gathered more than 15,000 signatures and the election commission validated more than 9,000 of them.

State law requires that more than 14,854 signatures be collected, while the Chattanooga charter calls for more than 9,600.

Before the election commission voted to certify the results, Littlefield filed suit. In October 2010, Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollinsworth stopped the recall.

The election commission already had voted to act under the City Charter, and all the parties to the case agreed on that, Littlefield's lawyer Hal North said. But North argues the appellate court's dismissal last week did not accept that fact, which led to the misapplication of law.

"The legal determinations had already been made by the election commission," North said.

The appellate court's opinion found that the trial court lacked jurisdiction and prematurely stopped the election commission from voting.

If the Court of Appeals denies the rehearing, Littlefield can appeal the dismissal to the Tennessee Supreme Court. North said such a move appeared likely.

Jim Folkner, with Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield, reacted to Littlefield's petition.

"I think people have figured out by now that Mr. Littlefield goes to court to stay in power, to fight the police rather than the gangs and to have costly annexations rather than a responsible city budget," he said.

Staff writer Cliff Hightower contributed to this report.