State Appeals Court to Decide Whether Councilman Stays in Office
Posted October 16, 2007 7:05 p.m. EDT
Updated October 17, 2007 9:50 a.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A fight over residency that could determine an election in Rocky Mount went to the North Carolina Court of Appeals Tuesday.
Last week, voters re-elected Rocky Mount City Councilman Andre Knight to a second term, even though the county's board of elections, in 2006, said he could not legally represent that ward again.
Rev. Roosevelet Higgs challenged Knight's residency last year, arguing Knight was ineligible to serve as a council member in Ward 1 because he does not live there.
"Mr. Knight has succeeded in making a mockery of the electoral process for Ward 1 for a period of four years," Higgs said.
Knight's attorney, Michael Crowell, argued Tuesday that Knight's home in Rocky Mount is his primary residence and that two Nash County homes in question are only for his family's adult-care business.
Crowell argued his client never got a fair hearing from the Edgecombe County Board of Elections and that the former chairwoman made biased statements on the issue and then refused to recuse herself from the proceedings. He also argued related motions were mishandled and facts were ignored.
"There were various procedural problems," Crowell said. "They went into closed session when they shouldn't have."
Higgs said he thought Knight was treated fairly.
Edgecombe County officials were absent from Tuesday's proceedings, and they did not submit a written legal brief. Attorneys for the county did not immediately return WRAL's calls seeking comment about the case.
It could take the Court of Appeals as long at 90 days to issue a decision in this case.
Until the court hands down a decision, Knight remains a voting member of the Rocky Mount City Council.