Court Denies Quick Appeal for Community Oversight Referendum; Supreme Court Yet to Weigh In

Posted at 4:10 PM, Sep 24, 2018

The Tennessee Court of Appeals on Monday ruled against fast-tracking an appeal from the Fraternal Order of Police in a case surrounding whether a referendum to create a board of community members to oversee Metro Police will appear on the ballot in November, but the Tennessee Supreme Court still has yet to weigh in.

Last week, a circuit court judge sided with Metro government, the Davidson County Election Commission and the group Community Oversight Now, saying that the referendum should remain before voters on the upcoming November 6 ballot

The Fraternal Order of Police, who had sued Metro Nashville saying Community Oversight Now hadn’t gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, lost the case. The Fraternal Order of Police later filed an appeal, asking for the Court of Appeals to expedite the hearing because of the quickly-approaching November election.

Monday, the Tennessee Court of Appeals denied that request, saying that the group Community Oversight Now had filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment of the circuit court.  Theeda Murphy, with Community Oversight Now, said the group filed the motion to have the trial judge reconsider whether the Fraternal Order of Police had standing to sue. 

The Court of Appeals said in its ruling on Monday that a hearing on that specific motion was scheduled for October 5, and that the hearing would have to take place before the Fraternal Order of Police could then re-file a motion for an expedited hearing.  However, David Raybin, an attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police, said the appeal court's ruling was made somewhat in error, because the trial court judge had already denied the motion to alter the judgment the previous Friday. 

The decision from the Court of Appeals does not impact an ongoing separate legal maneuver from the Fraternal Order of Police, who last week asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to directly take up their appeal -- bypassing the Court of Appeals entirely -- using what is known as the supreme court's rare "reach-down" power in matters of urgency.

On Friday, the Tennessee Supreme Court asked Metro's attorneys to file a response countering the arguments of the Fraternal Order of Police for the Supreme Court to quickly take up the case.  The Tennessee Supreme Court has still not yet ruled on whether it will do so.

More Stories:
Group Files Petition Calling For Community Oversight Board
Community Oversight Board Vs. The Policing Project