A Baltimore County councilwoman violated the county constitution when she briefly moved out of her district in 2021, however there’s no authorized precedent for making her depart workplace, the county legal professional has concluded.
The authorized opinion by County Attorney James Benjamin discovered that whereas Councilwoman Cathy Bevins’ transfer was a violation of the constitution, it’s “unclear that the Charter requires Councilwoman Bevins to immediately vacate” her seat.
The county constitution, adopted in 1957, serves because the county’s structure. It says that if a council member strikes from the district the place they lived when elected, their “office shall be forthwith vacated.” But Benjamin wrote that “there does not appear to be legal precedent requiring the immediate removal of Councilwoman Bevins.”
Bevins, a Democrat who represents District 6, didn’t reply Monday to requests for remark.
Bevins has beforehand stated she made a mistake when she moved final yr from Middle River in District 6 to a Perry Hall dwelling situated in District 5. She stated she acted on incorrect recommendation from the County Council’s legal professional, who informed her the transfer wouldn’t violate the constitution. After she realized the error, she moved to a rental condo in Middle River.
First elected in 2010, the councilwoman introduced in March she wouldn’t search reelection this yr. Her time period ends in December.
The county legal professional’s authorized opinion, first reported by WYPR, is dated April 8.
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Benjamin’s seven-page evaluation factors to the case of Milton “Mickey” H. Miller, a Democratic councilman who within the late Nineteen Sixties moved out of his Second District and stored his seat.
“Based upon the Miller case, it appears the County Council did not believe that Mr. Miller had to vacate his office immediately,” Benjamin wrote.
Benjamin’s opinion will not be the primary to seek out that Bevins’ transfer constituted a constitution violation. In November, county Inspector General Kelly Madigan concluded the identical after receiving complaints concerning the transfer. Her workplace discovered that the constitution “does not contain any enforcement provisions” about residency violations.
Both Benjamin and Madigan’s studies recommend that the County Council contemplate modifications to the constitution to handle what to do when a council member strikes from their district.
But Council Chairman Julian Jones, a Woodstock Democrat, stated Monday there are not any plans for the council to have a look at the problem.
Jones stated he believes those that wrote the constitution didn’t intend for somebody to be faraway from workplace “for this type of infraction,” which he referred to as inadvertent. Jones stated Bevins acknowledged her error, and he thinks the council mustn’t take steps to take away somebody “duly elected” by the residents.
“We will not take up this issue,” Jones stated.