|
|
Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Judge asked to recuse councilman from impeachment

  •    The attorney for Hannibal Fire Chief Tim Carter has asked a judge to disqualify City Councilman Jim Behymer from an impeachment hearing against the suspended administrator.

     


    • email print
  •    The attorney for Hannibal Fire Chief Tim Carter has asked a judge to disqualify City Councilman Jim Behymer from an impeachment hearing against the suspended administrator.
       The attorney, Neil F. Maune, argues in the motion that Behymer is related by marriage to City Attorney James F. Lemon, who will serve as prosecutor.
       If Judge David C. Mobley rules in favor of Carter, it could have a profound impact on the outcome of the impeachment.
       The case will be heard at 8 a.m. June 29 at the Ralls County Courthouse in New London, where Mobley is an associate judge. A hearing on the motion has not been set.
       Lemon said Behymer is the brother of his wife’s deceased stepfather. He and Behymer were upset by the motion.
       “I think it’s ridiculous,” Lemon said. “I think it’s an attempt to cloud the matter. I think it’s an attempt to set up an appeal.”
       “I’m not related whatsoever,” Behymer said. “I do not have any blood relationship.”
       Maune said that the relationship is “not that distant.”
       “Put yourself in Tim Carter’s shoes and ask yourself if you’d want that person on that jury,” Maune said.
       Behymer was incensed by any implication that even a remote relationship would affect his vote on impeachment.
       “I will carry out the duties and responsibilities of my office,” he said. “I will listen to both sides and try to make the decision based on the information that’s presented.”
       Behymer said that if the judge recuses him, he might seek additional legal action.
       Lemon said that if he had a direct relationship with Behymer, he “might think this (motion) is a valid argument,” He said because he will prosecute the case, it would not be “appropriate” for him to advise Behymer.
       “I certainly don’t want to be accused of influencing him,” Lemon said.
       The impeachment charges were filed by City Councilmen and Fire Board members Jason Janes and Barry Louderman.
       Carter is accused of acting unprofessionally and being derelict in his duties for alleged fraud, dishonesty, insubordination and oppression of others in the department.
       The allegations, which Carter has refuted, deal mostly with his purported actions on asbestos removal at Fire Station 3 and a former television studio that was being converted to a Fire Department administrative office. Carter also was accused of not following Fire Board directives.
       Janes, who is leaving the council, and Louderman, who is unopposed for re-election, are limited to testifying at the June 29 hearing.
       At the least, Mayor Roy Hark, a former fire chief, and Councilmen Kevin Knickerbocker, Jeff Lyng and Janes’ replacement chosen by voters April 6 will hear the evidence. Knickerbocker also is a member of the Fire Board, but appointments could change after the election. Councilman Lou Barta faces opposition in the election
    Page 2 of 2 -    Carter, 39, has been a Hannibal firefighter for 17 years and was appointed chief in September 2006. He continues to receive more than $5,700 a month in salary and benefits.
       Under terms of his administrative leave, Carter would be paid through Dec. 1, 2010, then resign and receive a full pension starting two years later.
       If he is impeached, he will be fired immediately and lose his pension. Carter has asked for a separate administrative hearing before Mobley, but it has not been scheduled.
     
      • calendar