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Salyersville Independent

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Mayor, council’s attorney files answer to complaint

SALYERSVILLE – An answer has been filed in the case in which a former city councilman had filed a formal complaint against the mayor and remaining city council members.

On November 17, Colin Ray Jackson, represented by attorney John C. Collins, filed a complaint in Magoffin County Circuit Court, asking the court to rule a declaratory judgment that Jackson was not guilty of “misconduct…in the performance of the duties of his office,” noting the law is ambiguous in defining misconduct, that his statements made in the meeting that led to the vote of removal did not constitute misconduct, and that he should be reinstated to that office immediately.

The complaint named Salyersville Mayor James “Pete” Shepherd and city council member Jarrod Howard, Paul Montgomery, Pat Frazier and Darrell Arnett as defendants.

Earlier this month, Alexander B. Hyman, the counsel for the defendants, electronically filed an answer to the complaint, including 17 affirmative defenses, and asks for the court to dismiss the complaint with prejudice, and that judgment be entered in the defendants’ favor.

As some background, in the October 18 regular city council meeting, Jackson used a racist slur in open meeting referring to a leadership role within a group of slaves, and a public hearing was held on November 10, in which the charge was read, Jackson was able to rebut the claims and the council went into closed session. After closed session, now former council member Tex Holbrook resigned and the rest of the council held a vote, unanimously voting to remove Jackson from office. The vote had to be unanimous to remove a council member from office, per state laws, and any abstaining votes would have been counted as a vote with the majority.

Among the 17 affirmative defenses listed, Hyman stated that the complaint failed to state a claim or claims against the defendants in which relief can be granted. He wrote that the defendants state they fully complied with all applicable laws and regulations, and there was no evidence they hadn’t followed the legal process to Jackson from office.

Hyman said Jackson failed to mitigate his damages, if any, and he assumed all risks of his own actions, failing to join necessary and indispensable parties. According to his answer, Hyman states the defendants have qualified and/or absolute immunity, including statutory immunity and/or privilege in the case. He also argued that Jackson’s complaint may be barred by the applicable statute of limitations.

The Independent will report updates in the case as information is made available. No court date is scheduled in the case as of press time.

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