Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit over council-manager referendum

DECATUR, Ala. – A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the City of Decatur. Some residents wanted a council manager instead of an elected mayor. One of those people was Gary Voketz. He voted and several others did for a council manager form of government. They won the vote, but the city never changed the way things were.

"Unfortunately it laid dormant for a while, while the city drug its feet. They eventually then submitted to the Department of Justice," Attorney Carl Cole said.

Cole took on this case against the city. He said before the judge's ruling on Wednesday, he thought the judge was going to rule in his clients favor, but things changed.

"He has decided a Supreme Court case out of Arizona had some language in it that affects our case," Cole said.

When the city submitted the request to The Department of Justice, court documents showed the proposed plan would shrink the number of districts from 5 to 3. It would impact the voting power of African-Americans.

The federal judge ruled that it was a legitimate reason for the city not to switch over to a council manager form of government. Cole said they're disappointed in the decision, but it may not be over.

"We would have rather had the judge stay with his original opinion, the city had indicated they would appeal that decision back when he originally made it, so I don`t have problem if we do appeal it we are doing the right thing," Cole said.