Judge rules on venue for case against City of Decatur - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Judge rules on venue for case against City of Decatur

City officials said they wanted the case to stay in federal court because the lawsuit deals with federal issues.(Source: WAFF file) City officials said they wanted the case to stay in federal court because the lawsuit deals with federal issues.(Source: WAFF file)
DECATUR, AL (WAFF) -

A U.S. District Judge handed down a ruling Tuesday on where a case levied against the city will be heard. And it's what city leaders wanted to hear.

The judge is keeping the lawsuit in federal court. City officials said they wanted the case to stay in that venue because the lawsuit deals with federal issues. 

The lawsuit calls for the city manager form of government that voters chose in 2010 to be implemented, and Decatur city officials maintain that would violate the Voting Rights Act.

The 2010 vote to change the form of government would have meant three voting districts instead of five, with a fourth council member and a mayor voted for at-large. A city manager would be hired as the top administrator. 

The city said that by eliminating two voting districts, Decatur would lose its only district with a majority of African-American voters. 

Gary Voketz got the measure on the ballot four years ago, and he is the one suing the city for not implementing the city manager system. His attorney asked to move the lawsuit back to state court.

We wanted to be in state court because we thought we thought the resolution would be achieved quicker and for less cost," said the plaintiff's attorney, Carl Cole. "We're going to stay in federal court, at least for now. There are still some issues that we think are ultimately to be decided by state court."

With this lawsuit hanging over the city of Decatur, the city cannot borrow money from banks to pay for services. City officials are concerned about the budget for fiscal year 2015, which starts Oct. 1.

City Council President Gary Hammon said the pending suit will prevent the purchase of police cars, fire trucks or other items the city needs.

There will be a conference call with the judge Friday morning. A court date could be set for the suit then.

 Copyright 2014 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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