262 A.2d 60 (Md. 1970), 320, Town of Glenarden v. Bromery

Docket Nº:320, 321.
Citation:262 A.2d 60, 257 Md. 19
Opinion Judge:[11] Hammond
Party Name:TOWN OF GLENARDEN v. Geraldine BROMERY et al. James R. COUSINS, Jr., et al., v. Stanley D. BROWN et al.
Attorney:[7] Alfred L. Scanlan, with whom were Shea & Gardner and Patricia A. Trivers on the brief, for appellants.
Case Date:February 11, 1970
Court:Court of Appeals of Maryland
 
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Page 60

262 A.2d 60 (Md. 1970)

257 Md. 19

TOWN OF GLENARDEN

v.

Geraldine BROMERY et al.

James R. COUSINS, Jr., et al.,

v.

Stanley D. BROWN et al.

Nos. 320, 321.

Court of Appeals of Maryland.

February 11, 1970

Page 61

[257 Md. 20] Alfred L. Scanlan, Washington, D. C. (Shea & Gardner, Washington, D. C., and Patricia A. Trivers, Glenarden, on the brief), for appellants.

Amicus curiae brief filed by The Maryland Municipal League, Joseph S. Casula, Riverdale, on the brief.

Charles A. Dukes, Jr., Hyattsville, for appellees.

Before HAMMOND, C. J., and BARNES, McWILLIAMS, SINGLEY and SMITH, JJ. [257 Md. 21]

HAMMOND, Chief Judge.

By adopting a number of amendments to the town charter, the electorate of Glenarden replaced a mayor and a set of councilmen during their terms with another mayor and another set of councilmen. The displaced persons here challenge the effectiveness of the charter amendments to validly accomplish the change in terms and officials.

Glenarden is a municipality that sometime ago availed itself of the authorizations of Art. XI-E of the Constitution of Maryland (the Municipal Home Rule Amendment) and of Code (1957), Art. 23A, the implementing statute, its charter being in all significant respects one contemplated by Art. 23B of the Code, titled Municipal Corporation Charter.

At a regular election called for by the original charter held on May 5, 1969, Mayor Cousins who had served for some

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twenty-eight years was reelected over the appellee Trotter, and six councilmen aligned with the Mayor also were elected. Four members of the prior council became lame ducks, having failed of reelection. Perhaps for this reason the Town Council, after the election but before its successors took office, approved petitions of Glenarden citizens proposing ten amendments to the Town Charter, and on September 15, 1969, at an election ordered by Judge Digges, sitting in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, the voters approved all the amendments. Number 2 provided that there be six councilmen to be elected for two-year terms (for no more than three consecutive terms), and Number 3 made the term of the mayor two years, with a limit of two consecutive terms. Under the original charter, the terms were for four years. Number 4 established regular town elections on the first Monday in May in odd numbered years, and amendment Number 7 set up a special election and directed that the mayor and councilmen elected at that special election should serve as such until the next regular election. [257 Md. 22]

Various legal proceedings and counter-proceedings followed the adoption of the amendments. Finally, Judge Bowen in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County issued a mandatory injunction requiring the holding of a special election for all town offices on November 21, 1969.

Of 755 votes cast for Mayor at the November 21st election, the appellee Trotter, who had lost the May 5th election, received 354 while the incumbent Mayor Cousins who had won in May received 311. Two other candidates split the remaining votes. Since no candidate received a majority, a run-off election was held on December 22, in which Mr. Trotter beat Mayor Cousins. Six councilmen were elected in November, including two incumbents and two members of the Trotter faction who had been beaten in the May election, Messrs. Brown and Jackson.

The appellants are the Town, Mr. Cousins, and the six councilmen who were elected on May 5; the appellees include Mr. Trotter, Messrs. Brown and Jackson, and other citizens and taxpayers of the Town.

The appellants at the argument limited their contentions to the claims that the special election of November 21 was an exercise in the governmental process of recall of elected officials for which there is neither constitutional nor statutory authority in Maryland, and that the charter amendments reducing the terms of office of the mayor and the councilmen from four to two years, if construed to be applicable and effective prior to the regular town election of May 1973, are both unconstitutional and illegal until that time.

The appellants point out that the terms of...

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