Case against Tullis dismissed
By By Sherry Digmon
Advance Staff Writer
In about 50 words, it was over.
That was the length of the motion for dismissal in a case against the Poarch Creek Election Board, which had declared invalid a petition calling for a special election to remove Eddie Tullis as tribal council chairman and council member.
The motion to dismiss was submitted to Judge Earnie White last Monday.
The plaintiffs, William Bailey, Teri Watkins and Helen Hallman, signed the motion which stated, "The plaintiffs in this case no longer wish to pursue this issue."
Judge White issued an order of dismissal Tuesday. The document "ordered, adjudged and decreed that this cause be and hereby is dismissed with prejudice."
In this last suit, the plaintiffs brought action against the tribe's Election Board, chaired by Patricia Hodges.
The effort to remove Tullis began in October 1998 when several tribal members circulated a petition calling for a special election allowing tribal members to vote to remove Tullis. The petitioning group cited a number of grievances, including abuse of power.
These were uncharted waters for the tribe. There was no precedent and the tribe's constitution was not clear on procedure. The Tribal Council developed a set of procedures for the recall process.
A number of lawsuits followed involving the Election Board, the Tribal Council and Tullis.
The petition was turned over to the Election Board for signature verification. There were 646 names on the recall petition. To mandate a recall election, 551 signatures were required. Only 500 signatures were declared valid.
Hallman, Bailey and Watkins challenged the Election Board's determination that 146 signatures were invalid.
Judge White required the Election Board to turn over the signatures declared invalid to the plaintiffs. He also ruled at that time that the tribal members whose signatures were questioned and who wanted to be included on the petition would have to appear before the court, swear under oath they signed the original petition and re-sign their names.
That ruling may have been the deciding factor.
Even if the plaintiffs could have secured enough witnesses, they were under a time crunch. The constitution states that a recall election may not be held six months prior to a general election, which is June 3 at Poarch.
Tullis's term expires in June. He has said repeatedly that he does not plan to run for a council seat again.