BOSTON -- Next Monday's scheduled recall election involving Townsend Selectman Cindy King will not proceed, a justice of the state's higher court ruled on Wednesday.
Supreme Judicial Court Justice Elspeth Cypher on Wednesday upheld an Appeals Court justice's ruling that the recall sought against King does not meet the specific requirements outlined in Townsend's special act governing recalls.
Attorneys representing the town, King and residents who supported the recall made arguments Wednesday before Cypher on Wednesday.
Unless a full panel of the Supreme Judicial Court takes the King case up -- which could take up to a year, according to King's attorney, John Dombrowski -- Cypher's decision will be final and the selectman will not face recall based on the current petition.
"It's a fair decision," Dombrowski said. "You've got a bunch of people that are disgruntled and they're trying to affect government in an improper way."
King could not be reached for immediate comment Wednesday.
Joe Shank, one of the leaders of the recall movement, said Cypher's ruling was not as a surprise. He said the group pushing for the recall will now turn its focus to Selectman Gordon Clark, who has a hearing scheduled in Middlesex Superior Court on Thursday for his own legal challenge.
"We have the big hearing (Thursday, in Middlesex Superior Court), and there's a huge difference between Gordy Clark's affidavit and CIndy King's, so we're really confident we'll take Gordy," Shank said.
Lauren Goldberg, an attorney with KP Law representing the town, told the court Wednesday that new ballots were printed for Monday's scheduled recall vote including only Clark's name.
It is possible the Monday election could be suspended if a Middlesex Superior Court judge rules in Clark's favor.
King's legal battle had been ongoing for months. A Middlesex Superior Court justice initially declined to issue an injunction against the recall, writing that it should be allowed to proceed, a decision overruled by Appeals Court Justice Mark Green.
Green wrote that the reasons listed in the recall affidavit do not match examples of why a public official can be removed in Townsend under a special act. Recall supporters appealed Green's ruling, triggering the Wednesday hearing in Boston, where their attorney Ira Zaleznik argued that the Appeals Court justice had been mistaken.
"In the context of case law on recall elections, these (parenthetical reasons in the special act) were meant as suggestions to voters, not the basis for a court challenge to a valid recall," Zaleznik said.
Dombrowski argued that the recall should be blocked if its basis is King's decision-making rather than her ability to serve.
"(In Townsend), you can't be recalled because you're making decisions someone doesn't like," he said. "I think the single justice (of the Appeals Court) got it right."
Cypher's decision was not available in writing Wednesday afternoon. During the hearing, she asked several questions of both attorneys. When speaking with Zaleznik, she said she believed the voters "disagree with positions (King) has or has not taken," which Zaleznik said should be seen as fair grounds.
Cypher also said she saw burdens created on both sides of the issue, including "the other 90 percent" of the electorate who did not sign the recall petition and would have to go out to vote if they oppose it.
"There are burdens here on the public in the other direction," she said.
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