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City Council Fails to Remove Councilmember by Failing to Act Pursuant to City Charter

In the case of Smith v. Nelsonville, 2023-Ohio-2844, an appellate court held that the city council improperly removed the council member by failing to pass an ordinance or charter that requested the county prosecutor’s participation in the removal proceeding.

In this case, the council member argued that the city charter explicitly stated that a call for the removal of a councilmember required the county prosecutor to be invited to participate and the council could only hire a special prosecutor if the country prosecutor refused to participate. In response, the city council argued that (1) the county prosecutor declined to participate in prior removal proceedings and (2) the failure to invite the county prosecutor was harmless error. The appellate court agreed with the council member.

In support of its decision in favor of the council member, the appellate court explained that the county prosecutor declining to participate in a previous removal proceeding did not remove the obligation to include the county prosecutor for a new removal proceeding. The appellate court further explained that the council’s failure to act through the passage of the required ordinance or resolution pursuant to the city charter made the action of removing the council member a nullity.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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