Former mayor of Springfield Jeff Northway and his attorneys have filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court of an Effingham County Superior Court decision that removed him from office.
In the appeal, Northway and attorney Charles Herman said the Supreme Court of Georgia has jurisdiction, rather than the state Court of Appeals, because the issues involve the state and U.S. constitutions and questions of constitutionality are reserved for the state Supreme Court.
Judge William Woodrum, in a six-page order, sided with the city council members who filed a petition in November 2010 to have Northway removed from office. Four council members, represented by attorney Mickey Kicklighter, and Northway were in a three-day proceeding from July 6-8.
Northway is appealing on four points. First, they are appealing Judge Woodrum’s trial court order filed Aug. 1 removing Northway from office. They also are appealing a March 31 decision by Judge Woodrum to deny a motion to dismiss in which Herman argued the city’s provisions for removal of office in its charter were unconstitutional.
They also are appealing a June 28 decision to deny a motion to dismiss and Judge Woodrum’s ruling that his original decision was self-executing.
Northway and his attorneys are asking that all four court orders be reversed.
The city has asked that the first interrogatories to Northway and his responses and the first request for production of documents to Northway be included in the record on appeal.
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.” Council members originally asked for Northway to step down in November 2010 but he refused. They filed a petition with Superior Court under Section 45 of the city charter to have him removed from office.
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.
Northway took his seat on the city council dais less than two weeks after Judge Woodrum ruled in favor of the council members seeking his ouster. But Northway, who filed an appeal Aug. 4, has not attended a city council meeting since that Aug. 9 meeting.
Judge Woodrum issued his ruling on an injunction sought by several council members on Aug. 29, stating his order filed earlier that month was self-executing.