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Jefferson County Election Comm'n v. Hollingsworth

Supreme Court of Arkansas

October 23, 2014

JEFFERSON COUNTY ELECTION COMMISSION; TED DAVIS; STU SOFFER; CYNTHIA SIMS; WILL FOX; PATRICIA JOHNSON, APPELLANTS
v.
DEBORAH " DEBE" HOLLINGSWORTH, APPELLEE

APPEAL FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. CV-2014-133-5. HONORABLE TED CAPEHEART, JUDGE.

McKissic & Associates, PLLC, by: Jackie B. Harris, for appellant.

Gibson Law Office, by: Charles Sidney Gibson and Charles Sidney Gibson II, for appellee.

OPINION

Page 505

DONALD L. CORBIN, Associate Justice.

This is an appeal from an order of the Jefferson County Circuit Court granting Appellee Deborah " Debe" Hollingsworth's request for a petition for writ of mandamus.[1] Appellants are the Jefferson County

Page 506

Election Commission (Commission); Ted Davis, individually and in his official capacity as chairman of the Jefferson County Election Commission; Stu Stoffer and Cynthia Sims, in their official capacities as Jefferson County Election Commissioners; Will Fox, in his official capacity with the Jefferson County Election Commission; and Patricia Johnson, in her official capacity as Jefferson County Clerk (collectively " Appellants" ).[2] For reversal, they argue that the circuit court erred in (1) denying their motion to dismiss Appellee's complaint because the complaint failed to state a cause of action for which relief could be granted; (2) denying their motion to dismiss because the complaint failed to state facts upon which relief could be granted; and (3) its construction of Arkansas Code Annotated section 14-37-113. Our jurisdiction is pursuant to Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 1-2(a)(4) (2014). Because the appeal is moot, we dismiss it.

The present case dates back to a dispute that arose in 2012 regarding the length of term for municipal offices in the city of Pine Bluff. A mayoral election was scheduled to appear on the November 2012 ballot. Prior to that election, Redus, who was then the mayor of Pine Bluff, filed an action in the Jefferson County Circuit Court requesting a declaration of when the next mayoral election should be held and requesting a writ of mandamus to prohibit the county clerk from counting any votes in the 2012 mayoral election or certifying the winner. The circuit court entered an order on October 5, 2012, finding that the Pine Bluff mayoral election was properly scheduled for November 2012 and denying Redus's motion for a writ of mandamus. No appeal was taken from that order.

The election took place as scheduled in November 2012, and Hollingsworth defeated Redus in the mayoral election. On December 3, 2012, the Pine Bluff City Council passed a resolution stating in relevant part as follows:

Section 1. That the party committees of the recognized political parties under the laws of the State of Arkansas which are operating in Jefferson County, Arkansas, are hereby requested to conduct primary elections for the municipal officers of the City of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, beginning in 2014 and for all subsequent municipal elections.

City of Pine Bluff, Ark., City Council Res. No. 3551, § 1 (Dec. 3, 2012). Nevertheless, Hollingsworth took office on January 1, 2013, and her oath of office stated that her term began in 2013 and ends in 2016.

Prior to the filing deadline for the 2014 primary elections, Redus filed as an unopposed Democratic candidate for the office of Pine Bluff mayor. Franklin filed as a Democratic candidate for city treasurer, and Whitfield, the current city clerk who was elected ...


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