Quartzsite Town Attorney Martin Brannan filed a petition for a Temporary Restraining Order this morning ostensibly on behalf of the Town of Quartzsite (plaintiff) against the Town’s elected officials! (Town Council, defendants). So, in effect, Mr. Brannan is suing the Town on behalf of the Town! (Interestingly, he is suing his own clients, to whom he gives legal advice.)
It appears the motive for this bizarre move was to protect his job, since the Town Council was to consider firing the Town Manager and Assistant Town Manager, who hired and sustain Mr. Brannan. (Mr Brannan has been the subject of numerous Bar complaints, still pending, according to the Arizona Republic newspaper.) Mr. Brannan claims such firings would be illegal. But
1) if true, it wouldn’t be the first time the Town acted illegally. The old Town council has routinely held illegal meetings, as the State AG has already ruled. Mr. Brannan never filed a TRO to stop those illegal meetings. And
2) a TRO is supposed to be issued only after an act, when actual harm is alleged. Not before.
Surprisingly (or not, considering his track record for the town), La Paz County Superior Court Michael Burke signed off the TRO, which this reporter believes fails the 4 basic legal tests for a TRO at every point. (If nothing else, ignoring Mr. Brannan’s obvious conflict of interest, Mr. Brannan lacks standing to sue the Town Council on behalf of the Town. Clearly, the Town Council did not authorize this suit against them.) In essence, what Judge Burke has done is akin to barring the Arizona Legislature from voting on SB 1070 because it might be unconstitutional. A TRO is not ripe until a law or act has been ratified. You can’t get a TRO because of what someone “might” do. There has to be actual harm.
Now Judge Burke has created a constitutional issue, a violation of Article III, Distribution of Powers clause in the AZ Constitution, because the Judicial is telling the Legislative what it can and cannot do.
Hopefully the Arizona Attorney General will step in with an emergency appeal to the Arizona Court of Appeals to overturn Judge Burke as it has done a few times already.
“A party seeking injunctive relief must show:
1. that they are likely to succeed on the merits,
2. that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief,
3. that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and
4. that the injunction is in the public interest.”
At minimum, it is hard to see how it is not in the public interest for elected officials to do their job.
[contributed by Quartzsite Outsider – Thanks!]