- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Two city councilmen are asking a judge to compel Mayor Johnny DuPree to bring department head and municipal court nominees forward for confirmation.

But The Hattiesburg American reports (https://hatne.ws/1zu6dq0 ) that it may be January before the case makes it to a courtroom.

Forrest County Circuit Judge Robert Helfrich has recused himself from the suit and has asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to appoint a judge to hear the case.

In 2006, Helfrich presided over a similar case when three city councilmen sued DuPree for declining to bring forward nominees after his re-election to a second term in 2005. Helfrich ruled DuPree was required by state law to submit nominees for council approval even after a re-election, and that opinion was upheld on appeal by the state Supreme Court in 2007.

On Monday, Robert Gholson, attorney for Councilmen Kim Bradley and Carter Carroll, asked for the judgment against DuPree based on the 2006 case.

“Perhaps the most bewildering thing about this whole case is the fact that the mayor has persisted in this behavior despite the prior ruling ….” Gholson said in the motion.

DuPree, who is being represented by City Attorney Charles Lawrence, has not filed a response to either the initial complaint or Gholson’s motion.

DuPree won a fourth term in a tightly-contested general election in June 2013. Challenger Dave Ware sued over alleged voting improprieties, and DuPree won again in a court-ordered special election in September 2013.

Since then, DuPree has submitted just six nominees for 17 positions that have to be approved by council.

Eleven positions - including police chief, city attorney, parks and recreation director - never have been brought before council for confirmation.

DuPree had put up a candidate for another vacancy, city clerk, but the nomination was voted down by the council.

Four nominees to head city departments were brought forward in March and were confirmed. A fifth open spot, city engineer, was filled in July.


Information from: The Hattiesburg American, https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

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