City Court Judge Sherry Paty had no authority to even consider whether a Hamilton Place pet store’s license should be repealed, much less reverse the decision, according to her Tennessee Supreme Court-appointed replacement in the heavily publicized case.
Chattanooga officials rescinded Pet Company Inc.’s business license for animal cruelty in June.
Their action followed McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center's seizure of more than 90 animals from the store after discovering owners had failed to repair a malfunctioning air conditioning unit despite temperatures exceeding 85 degrees.
In addition, McKamey officials said during a series of hearings before Judge Paty, many of the animals in the store had highly contagious diseases – probably a result of the neglect and filth to which they were subjected.
Wednesday morning, Senior Judge Frank Harris said his opinion regarding previous judicial error grows out of his detailed study of Chattanooga’s city charter, which he said gives the municipal court no jurisdiction in such cases.
His statement confounded Pet Company Inc. attorney Andy Pippenger, who had come to court Wednesday morning asking that the new judge throw the case against his client out of court on the grounds that it constituted “double jeopardy.”
Mr. Pippenger said he had no chance to object to Judge Paty’s abrupt decision to declare a mistrial in the case, and would have done so rather than having to re-argue his case “before a new jury.”
That’s all well and good, Judge Harris responded, “but you’re arguing to somebody who cannot make that decision . . . City Court has no jurisdiction over business licenses.”