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VOL. 129 | NO. 127 | Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Armstrong Questions Finding in Brooks Residency Case

By Bill Dries

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Chancellor Kenny Armstrong wants to know who made a specific finding that county commissioner Henri Brooks doesn’t live in the district she represents.

BROOKS

And he asked the county’s attorney the question repeatedly in a Tuesday, July 1, hearing on Brooks’ lawsuit against the county seeking to restrain the commission from declaring her seat vacant at its July 7 meeting.

Armstrong didn’t rule on the request for a restraining order Tuesday. Instead, attorneys for the commission will submit a written argument to Armstrong, with all sides back in court Thursday afternoon.

Assistant County Attorney Jenny Bozeman argued that the authority to declare a vacancy and fill it is in the county charter, state law and a legal opinion from the Tennessee attorney general. And she said the determination that Brooks doesn’t live in her district was made by County Attorney Marcy Ingram in an investigation that Brooks did not cooperate with.

“How do you get to step two when we really haven’t gone through step one?” Armstrong asked. “Logically, somebody has to make that determination. … I think it’s an elected body. I don’t think it’s Ms. Ingram.”

That wasn’t a ruling by Armstrong but a strong indication of what he will base a ruling on. Armstrong declined Tuesday to grant an injunction to stop all commission action until the full matter is decided in court. Instead, he will wait for a written argument from Shelby County government and see all sides in court Thursday.

He also said Ingram’s report on Brooks’ residency, which didn’t reach a conclusion on where she lives is not an automatic conclusion that she no longer lives in the district.

“A finding that she doesn’t live on Crump Street is not a finding that she has removed herself from the district,” he said.

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