The Tennessee Supreme Court reaffirmed its role as champion as the rule of law in the Volunteer State on Thursday when it agreed to hear an appeal of a lower court’s decision to set the date for the Nashville mayoral election at August 2.
You can read the Court’s Order Granting the Motion to Assume Jurisdiction here:Order Granting Motion to Assume Jurisdiction
The Court granted mayoral candidate Ludye Wallace’s petition for an expedited hearing of his appeal of Chancery Court Judge Claudia Bonnyman’s decision to set the special election date at August 2 rather than May 1, the date Wallace’s attorney Jamie Hollin said was required by a plain reading of the law.
Hollin has until March 29 to submit the Petitioner’s Brief to the Court. Metro Nashville Government has until April 4 to submit Respondent’s Brief.
Oral arguments will be heard on Monday, April 9.
“We are grateful that the Supreme Court decided to assume jurisdiction of this case as it involves the election of Metro Nashville’s most important elected office, Mayor,” Wallace’s attorneys Hollin and Daniel Horwitz said in a statement.
“We are optimistic that the unambiguous terms of the Metro Charter and the clearly expressed will of 83 percent of Nashville’s voters will soon be vindicated,” they added.
Their client, plaintiff Ludye Wallace, also issued a statement praising the Court.
“I am very grateful and humbled by the Order of the Supreme Court and am looking forward to the hearing on April 9th,” Wallace said in the statement.
“Twenty-one members of the Nashville Metro Council signed a letter to Metro Legal Director Jon Cooper on Tuesday asking him to request of the Tennessee Supreme Court that it “reach down” and hear the plaintiff’s appeal of a Chancery Court Judge’s decision to hold the special mayoral election on August 2, rather than May 1,” The Tennessee Star reported on Thursday.
Cooper did not do as these Metro Council members requested. Instead, on Wednesday he asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to reject the plaintiff’s appeal. The Court, however, sided with the plaintiff.
“Earlier this month the Davidson County Election Commission ignored the plain meaning of the law and voted 3 to 2 to hold the special mayoral election on August 2, rather than May 2,” The Star reported:
Last week, attorney Jamie Hollin filed an appeal of that decision on behalf of his client, mayoral candidate Ludye Wallace in Davidson Couny Chancery Court.
Later that week, Judge Claudia Bonnyman ruled against Wallace and in favor of the Davidson County Election Commission, and confirmed August 2 as the date for the special election.
The Star subsequently reported that, according to Arizona State University Law School Professor Judith M. Stinson, a national expert on “dicta” and legal holdings, if Judge Bonnyman’s decision was based on “dicta”–that is, facts cited in an opinion that are not directly relevant to the legal holding of the court–the legitimacy of the special election and the entire judicial system in Tennessee would come into question.
Numerous attorneys argued that Judge Bonnyman’s decision was, in fact, based on “dicta.”
On Friday, Hollin filed an emergency appeal of the case on behalf of his client to the Tennessee Supreme Court.