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Northway appeal put on Supreme Court docket

POSTED: December 29, 2011 5:19 p.m.

Former Springfield Mayor Jeff Northway will have his day before the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Northway, who was removed from office in July, filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court and the case has been docketed for March 2012. Northway and his attorney, Charles Herman of Savannah, have been granted a request to file a brief of more than 30 pages before the justices and also are asking for oral arguments. The city’s attorneys asked for an extension to file their briefs in responses and also are being allowed to file a brief of more than 30 pages.

Arguments are limited to 20 minutes for each side, according to the Supreme Court’s rules Northway and his attorney went to the Supreme Court, rather than the Court of Appeals, because the issue is one of constitutionality and those issues are reserved for the state Supreme Court.

In November 2010, city council members sought Northway’s resignation and when he refused, they filed a petition with the Effingham County Superior Court. After a three-day proceeding in July 2011, Judge William Woodrum, in a six-page order, sided with council members.

Northway and his attorney are appealing Judge Woodrum’s decision, filed Aug. 1, and his later ruling that his decision was self-executing.

Herman also has argued that the city’s provisions for removal from office, under Section 45 of the city charter, were unconstitutional.

Under Section 45, four members can ask for the mayor to resign if he is deemed to be “guilty of malpractice in office, willful neglect of duty, gross and willful abuse of powers entrusted to them or for any reason become incompetent or unfit” to serve.

In his original order removing Northway from office, Judge Woodrum wrote that “there is complete and substantial evidence on the record as a whole in support of the Petitioner’s Petition for Removal.”

Northway and his attorney also are appealing the June 28 denial of a motion to dismiss.

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