WISE — A judge will hear motions Friday in the latest lawsuit filed against Pound Town council members by a council candidate and nine town residents.
Candidate Leabern Kennedy and residents Melissa Boggs, Scotty Cox, Brenda Crawford, Finley Jackson, Shandolyn Johnson, Janet Meade, Dianna Smith, Vernon Tompkins and Lynette Wells filed suit on Sept. 28 against the town, council members Glenn Cantrell, Danny Stanley, Clifton Cauthorne and interim appointee James Pelfrey over a Sept. 14 meeting.
The suit alleges that Town Attorney Cameron Bell had given a written opinion that three council members were required for a quorum to hold a meeting. However, only two members — Cantrell and Stanley — opened the Sept. 14 meeting, according to official council minutes from that meeting.
The suit calls for the invalidation of Pelfrey’s appointment and all council actions taken after he was sworn into office and voted in subsequent meetings.
Cauthorne and Mayor Stacey Carson were absent from the Sept. 14 meeting, where Cantrell claimed Town Attorney Bell told him it was all right to hold a meeting with only two members of the statutorily designated five-member council. Upon convening, Cantrell and Stanley voted to appoint Pelfrey to replace Marley Green, who resigned this summer.
Bell instructed town staff in September not to provide copies of documents under a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request by the Times News regard- ing his legal advice to the council leading to the Sept. 14 meeting.
Bell, claiming attorney-client privilege on the advice regarding holding the meeting, later confirmed that the documents included three pages of documents and a one-page email.
Green’s seat was the second unfilled council slot this year. A substitute judge earlier this year invalidated the appointment of interim member Susan Downs-Freeman, who was appointed on a tie-breaking vote by Cauthorne, Green and Carson.
Downs-Freeman filled the seat vacated by Phill Cantrell Jr. — Glenn Cantrell’s brother — in February after his resignation.
Glenn Cantrell said Wednesday that a public notice was posted to advise that council members would be together at Courtroom Two in the Wise County Courthouse when a judge hears motions in the case. Kennedy and the other plaintiffs are being represented by Jonesville attorney Sidney Kolb.
Cauthorne on Wednesday said he had not received the notice.
Cantrell and Stanley’s handling of the Sept. 14 meeting is also the subject of a request for a state attorney general’s opinion on the quorum issue.