Macon County Chronicle

Judge Orders Expedited Hearing

On Monday, November 23, Macon County Judge John Wooten, held an initial hearing on the request filed by Red Boiling Springs City Council member and vice mayor John Cook, for a temporary restraining order against the city and an expedited final hearing.

Cook’s Attorney Jim Hawkins, requested that the court order the city not to remove Cook as vice mayor and not to recognize city council member Willy Brown as vice mayor.

(The petition filed by Cook last week, followed a Red Boiling Springs City Council meeting at which Cook was not present. During the meeting, three present fellow council members and RBS Mayor Kenneth Hollis voted Cook out of his council-elected seat as vice mayor and elected Willy Brown to fill the position.)

Red Boiling Springs City Attorney Jon Wells was present during the initial case hearing, and explained that at 9:20 that morning, the Tennessee Municipal League denied the city’s request for defense of the lawsuit filed by Cook. “Therefore,” stated Wells, “I’m here on behalf of the City.”

Judge Wooten opened the hearing by stating that he had read the petition and noted that Cook had been elected vice mayor under the 1953 RBS City Charter, in May of 2009.

City Attorney Wells explained that the city now operates under the new 2009 charter passed this year by the RBS City Council.

Wooten requested that both attorneys identify specific charter provisions from both charters in question.

While Judge Wooten denied Cook’s request for an immediate temporary restraining order against the city, on the grounds that there was no evidence present that showed irreparable harm was imminent, he quickly noted that Cook’s request for a final hearing to declare the rights of both parties was appropriate and should be expedited.

City Attorney Wells objected to the expedited hearing, but was overruled by Judge Wooten.

Judge Wooten set the expedited hearing for Wednesday, December 2, at 1 p.m., before the city’s next December 10th regular city council meeting. He also directed both parties to focus on relevant charter provisions, especially section 2.05 of the 1953 charter which requires that “newly elected council shall elect from its membership, a vice mayor for a term of two years.”

Cook’s attorney Jim Hawkins commented on the upcoming hearing, saying, “We intend to seek relief for Mr. Cook and the citizens of Red Boiling Springs in the final hearing.”