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Judge schedules hearing in schools case

Judge schedules hearing in schools case

Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 6:00 pm
By: By The Associated Press

The Messenger 07.11.12

MEMPHIS (AP) — A federal judge in Memphis has scheduled a Thursday hearing into whether the court should halt Aug. 2 referendums on local school districts.
The Commercial Appeal  reported U. S. District Court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays scheduled the hearing after a status conference Monday evening at which he granted a motion by suburban cities to have a voice in a lawsuit filed by the Shelby County Commission questioning the constitutionality of municipal school districts.
Six Shelby County municipalities have scheduled public votes on whether to form their own public schools and avoid becoming part of the combining Memphis and Shelby County school system. Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington have all scheduled referendums.
Lakeland officials voted Monday, hours before the status conference, to join Bartlett, Collierville and Germantown in the motion to intervene.
“No judge in his right mind wants to enjoin an election,” Mays said during the conference.
“On the other hand, if you let an election go forward and it’s based on a void statute and you can see it’s a void statute, then that’s a mockery.”
Mayes told the 23 attorneys involved in the case to file briefs by tonight on three issues he will consider in the request to halt the elections.
One is what harm is done and to whom by either allowing the elections or by stopping them.
Another point is what he termed “jurisdictional issues.” The suburbs’ claim the county commission’s filing on June 26 wasn’t proper because it violated the open meetings statute and violated county charter prohibition against the county interference in municipal matters.
The third point is whether a new state statute authored by state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, amounts to special legislation that can apply to only one county; a move that would be unconstitutional.
The lawsuit’s assertion that the move to form municipal school systems is racially discriminatory will not be addressed at the Thursday hearing.
Mays told attorneys to come to court Thursday well prepared and indicated any decision to halt the referendums must come soon.
“We’ll see how far we can get and see if anything can be done,” Mayes said. “If we don’t get to the point of enjoining the election by then, then I don’t think we can do it.”
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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com

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