The Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled the Sidney City Council did not follow the proper procedure to remove one of its five members. The city attorney for Sidney sent William Clark a letter in June of 2010 saying his failure to attend the last three council meetings was “willful or habitual neglect” of his duty as a councilman.
Clark failed to attend the next three meeting and the attorney sent another letter that said the council would hold a hearing at the September meeting for what it said were willful or habitual neglect or refusal to perform his duties as a city council member, for willful misconduct or maladministration as a city council member and for intoxication as a city council member.
Clark attended the hearing and said he had missed one meeting because his father was sick and had missed another because of a no-contact order he had for another council member’s son after a fight in a bar. Following the informal hearing, the council voted 4-1 to remove Clark from the council — with Clark the sole vote against the action.
Clark appealed the action saying his due process rights were violated because the city never formally filed charges against him. The district court upheld the council’s action saying the city had complied with state law in the removal process.
The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the district court ruling, saying the letters sent to Clark by the city attorney did not constitute formal charges and did not provide Clark with sufficient notice of the charges against him. The Appeals Court also ordered the city to pay Clark’s legal costs for the appeal.
See the complete ruling here: Sidney council PDF