The City Council has authorized City Attorney Mike McMahan to intervene in the lawsuit brought by Mayor Ron Littlefield to try to block the recall.
Attorney McMahan said the recall issue is cloudy and needs to be set straight by a judge.
He said a clear decision is to the benefit of the mayor, the city and those involved in the current and future recall efforts.
Attorney McMahan said it is unclear whether state law prevails on a recall or city charter.
He said a judge could also clear up several other issues about recalls.
Attorney McMahan said he expects there will be a hearing as soon as Friday. He said there also may be a quick decision.
He said he did not know if any, or all, of the circuit judges would recuse themselves.
Attorney McMahan said there should be little cost to the city.
Mayor Littlefield is paying his attorney, Hal North.
Jim Folkner, one of the recall leaders, said, “There have been two unsuccessful recall campaigns in the city of Chattanooga in recent years without any claims by any party that the city’s provision for recall conflicted with state law.
“But now that a third campaign has apparently succeeded in recalling Mayor Littlefield, city officials are claiming that there are legal defects in the city’s charter regarding the recall. They now claim that it is in conflict with state law.
“This poses the peculiar situation of a governing body arguing against the validity of its own laws – after doing nothing in recent years to correct the alleged defects. There is a feeling that the mayor and other city officials are hoping against hope that the courts throw out our recall petition.”
Mr. Folkner said he believes that the City Charter recall statutes are valid and expects them to stand any court challenge.
“Those who worked in this recall acted in good faith and carefully followed the directives and rulings of the Hamilton County Election Commission. Now after 16,000 signatures have been gathered and 10,000 have been validated as registered voters, Mayor Littlefield claims that his own City’s Charter is invalid. This is strange indeed."
Charles Wysong, another recall leader, said, “Attorney McMahan seems to have three choices: (1) to defend the city statutes, (2) to join the suit against his client (the city), claiming that the city’s charter is superseded by State law, and (3) to muddy the legal waters, thus aiding the Mayor Littlefield, City Council Chairman Manny Rico and Councilman Jack Benson.”
“If attorney McMahan does anything other than mount a vigorous defense of the city’s statutes, I think it would be a case of an attorney abandoning a client and would leave him open to petitioners’ complaints before the Bar Association.”
He said, "Councilmen Manny Rico and Jack Benson, who are themselves the objects of ongoing recall efforts, voted Tuesday night for the city attorney to join in the lawsuit. This is a clear conflict of interest because neither recused himself from the vote.
“The same city officials who ran roughshod over the will of the people by imposing high and unnecessary taxes are once again defying the will of the people and abusing the power of their offices.
“Because of this outrageous vote by the council, I am looking into filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission.
“In addition, I will be contacting attorneys to see if the city might be engaged in certain civil rights voting violations; specifically, elected officials operating under color of law to disenfranchise 10,000 validated recall petitioners.
“And if this is the case, there will be a civil suit against the city and all those officials who are involved.”