Hearing against Rusk mayor set for Monday

RUSK – Judge Diane DeVasto will hear a case against Rusk Mayor Angela Raiborn during a 10 a.m. hearing Monday, Feb. 11 in the 369th District Courtroom, located in the Cherokee County Courthouse in Rusk.

A two-part petition was filed by Rusk City Councilmen Ken Ferrara (District 4) and Jan Pate (District 5), along with Rusk citizens William M. Holland and Susan Keller, “seeking relief … to recover monetary damages and receive injunctive relief,” according to a Dec. 5 court document.

DeVasto is a 12th Court of Appeals judge assigned to overhear the case when 369th District Court Judge Michael Davis recused himself from the case.

One section of the councilmen's petition states that “almost immediately following” a Nov. 2 decision by Second District Court Judge Chris Day – who ruled in their favor regarding a 3-2 majority rule interpretation of the city charter – “Raiborn and others conspired to fraudulently initiate a recall campaign against Councilmen Pate and Ferrara.”

Their petition noted that Raiborn's alleged work “directly or indirectly through a self-proclaimed 'Rusk Recall Petition Committee' to effect a recall vote” of the two councilmen, with the group engaging “in public dissemination of false and misleading information; has solicited funds for political purposes improperly; and has disseminated one or more documents and/or publications purposely designed to appear as if generated or approved by the City of Rusk.”

As a result, the document stated, “this actionable conduct has caused damage to Councilmen Pate and Ferrara in an amount excess of the minimum jurisdictional limits of this court.”

A second issue raised by their petition was shot down during a Dec. 17 hearing, when DeVasto ruled against Pate and Ferrara that a restraining order filed against the city and City Secretary Rosalyn Brown was “void on its face because there was no injury (described) and (the plaintiff's legal petition) failed to define how they would be injured” if Brown were to submit the certified documents to the the Rusk council, Rusk City Attorney Anthony King said following the December hearing.

The city's contention was that “citizens were able to vote, and voting was not an injury, it was a democracy,” he said.

City leaders have since issued a May 4 recall election in conjunction with its regular municipal election.