Election challenge dismissed 9/24/2013

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Election challenge dismissed

By Rupert Howell
Circuit Judge Henry Lackey last week signed an order approving Sardis mayoral candidate Lula Palmer’s request to dismiss her petition for judicial review that challenged Billy Russell’s 45-vote victory in the Democratic primary runoff election May 21.

Palmer filed the petition June 20 and the Mississippi Supreme Court appointed Henry Lackey as special judge in Panola County to hear the election contest.
Russell was certified winner  354-309, but Palmer in her lawsuit alleged a multitude of voting irregularities including nine rejected and uncounted absentee ballots that should have been counted by that city’s Democratic Election Commission and also discrimination against African-American voters.
Palmer was represented by Cleveland attorney Ellis Turnage and Russell was represented by the Smith-Phillips firm in Batesville.

Lackey’s dismissal order dated September 19 noted, “ . . .both parties have agreed to the dismissal, (the court) does find that the motion is well taken and shall be granted.”

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“The right to vote, and to have your vote count is a fundamental right in our society. The people exercised that right, and voted to elect Billy Russell as their next Mayor. This law firm was glad to represent not only Billy Russell, but the many citizens of Sardis who  cast their vote.  The process is intended to express the will of the people and facts show that this process was properly carried out,” attorney Ryan Revere said.

 Revere added, “I know that Billy will do everything in his power to represent the people of Sardis in an exemplary manner.  As a lawyer, I am always pleased to see justice prevail.  Also, as a member of the Panola County community, I am glad to see Sardis move forward.”