In a new ruling issued on Friday, March 22, Superior Court Judge David Hall, ruling in Guilford County Superior Court, has called for the appeal of former Summerfield Town Councilmember Todd Rotruck to be heard by Monday, July 1 – which is the first day of the filing period for an election for that seat.
The ruling, which didn’t grant Rotruck the hearing in Guilford County Superior Court that he was requesting, was a long time coming: Rotruck and Summerfield finally received the signed written judge’s order from Hall after the hearing that was held on Monday, Feb. 11.
In that February hearing, Rotruck argued for the court to hold a trial that, if he won, would allow him to occupy the Summerfield Town Council seat until his appeal could be decided later this year in the NC Court of Appeals.
In the case that’s been garnering publicity for over a year, Rotruck was removed from the Summerfield Town Council last April after the Guilford County Board of Elections determined Rotruck didn’t live in Summerfield. In October 2018, the town appointed a new council member to that seat; however, Rotruck has been fighting hard in court to get his seat back.
The new written order for the Feb. 11 case heard in Guilford County Superior Court didn’t grant Rotruck his wish, but Rotruck said this week that he was pleased Hall had called for his appeal to be expedited.
If Rotruck wins the appeal, then that seat on the Summerfield Town Council will not be open for the 2019 election – since the term that Rotruck was elected to runs until 2021. If Rotruck loses his appeal, candidates can run to fill the seat in the November election.
Rotruck said he was surprised by the length of time between the Feb. 11 hearing and the written order.
“This is the longest that one has taken,” said Rotruck, who’s been through several hearings in this extended legal battle.
The order from Judge Hall states that there will be no hearing now for Rotruck to take the seat – since proceeding with the matter before the NC Court of Appeals case was heard “would subject the parties to risk of inconsistent Judgments and the costs of potentially unnecessary and lengthy litigation, and that the interests of justice require that the present matter be STAYED pending the North Carolina Court of Appeals review.”
The order added that, though it is just and necessary to stay the matter, that stay affects “a substantial right” of Rotruck – since he has a right for his appeal to be heard and he is off the council while waiting in the meantime.