Hocus Pocus

World renowned magician, David Copperfield, might be able to make things disappear but he's got nothing on Lenoir City Judge, Terry Vann. At Monday's city council meeting,  Judge Vann made a new law just appear from thin air that would finally let him get full control of the city court clerk's position that he has wanted so badly. Judge Vann presented the council with a 2004 Tennessee law that he says gives the council the authority to ignore the City Charter and appoint someone as the city court clerk's. Of course the judge is dead wrong. It's actually a simple matter.

Here is what the Lenoir City Charter says:

ARTICLE VIII
CITY RECORDER
Section
1. Compensation, specific requirements, powers and duties of office.
2. Shall keep minutes.
3. Shall be the custodian of public records, bonds, etc.
4. Shall provide and certify copies of records, papers, etc.
5. Shall generally supervise and keep records of fiscal affairs.
6. Shall be the treasurer.
7. Shall serve as city court clerk. The Recorder/Treasurer shall be the Clerk of the City Court.
8. Appointment of recorder pro tempore.

Here's what the TCA says:

TCA 16-18-310. Clerk of the municipal court.

(a)  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, at all times there shall be a person elected, appointed or otherwise designated to serve as clerk of the municipal court. Immediately upon each such election, appointment or designation, the chief administrative officer of the municipality shall promptly certify the results of such election, appointment or designation to the administrative office of the courts and shall supply such additional information, concerning the clerk, as shall be required by the administrative director.

The thing that mucks up the Judge's plan is the word "Notwithstanding". See that means this law does not supersede the city charter. The law simply states that there shall be a court clerk by what ever method the city prescribes. In the case of Lenoir City, the method is prescribed in the charter. The Recorder/Treasurer shall be the Clerk of the City Court. And fortunately for the residents of the city, council nor the judge can change the charter.

To add insult to injury, Judge Vann presented the council with an ordinance installing him as the one designated to recommend who would fill the appointed clerk position. And to beat it all, he got his TCA's backwards on the ordinance. That should give some indication to the validity of what the judge is up to. Click Here For Backwards Ordinance

Council should take a much closer look at Judge Vann's magic laws. Remember, the hand is quicker than the eye or in this case, the judge may be quicker than the council.

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5/1/08