Lue v. EadyAnnotate this Case
This case involved a highly contentious dispute over certain official actions of Mary Ann Whipple Lue, Mayor of the City of Gordon. Mayor Lue was the first African-American to be elected mayor of Gordon, sworn into office in 2014. Barely two months after being sworn in, two members of the city council and five other citizens filed a complaint against Mayor Lue in her official capacity, which was later amended, seeking removal of Mayor Lue for various actions alleged to be examples of conduct demonstrating incompetence, misfeasance, and malfeasance in office, which, according to the complaint, provide grounds for removal from office pursuant to the City of Gordon Charter. According to the complaint, these actions fell into three categories: alleged violations of the Georgia Open Meetings Act; alleged violations of the city charter, city code, and city personnel policy; and alleged financial malfeasance. The trial court denied Mayor Lue's motions to dismiss the complaint. Shortly thereafter, the trial court granted the motion for a temporary restraining order filed by plaintiffs, pursuant to which the mayor was temporarily suspended from office until such time as a hearing could be held on plaintiffs' motion for interlocutory injunction. Mayor Lue filed a motion to recuse the trial court judge, alleging improper ex parte communications between the judge and plaintiffs' counsel with respect to the temporary restraining order hearing, and that motion was denied. After a hearing on plaintiffs' motion for interlocutory injunction, the trial court granted the motion and entered an order, which was later amended, by which Mayor Lue was reinstated to office, subject to certain conditions imposed on her, including a prohibition from her meeting privately with three or more council members to discuss city business and a requirement that any such meetings must be open to the public with notice provided to the public as required by law. Mayor Lue appealed the denial of her motions to dismiss, the denial of her motion to recuse the trial court judge, and certain terms of the interlocutory injunction order and amended order. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Court found no error in the trial court's denial of the motion to recuse. To the extent that the trial court order enjoined the mayor from meeting privately with three city council members, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court's grant of the injunction with respect to the mayor's participation in such meetings was based upon an erroneous interpretation of the Charter. Consequently, the trial court erred in denying Mayor Lue's motion to dismiss that portion of the complaint seeking to nullify certain city council decisions on the ground they were made in violation of the Open Meetings Act.