Morrison says council could sue Herenton, ask for Jefferson to resign - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Morrison says council could sue Herenton, ask for Jefferson to resign

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Willie Herenton Willie Herenton
Myron Lowery Myron Lowery
Elbert Jefferson Elbert Jefferson

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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Memphis City Councilman wants to sue former Mayor Willie Herenton and give City Attorney Elbert Jefferson his walking papers.

Councilman Bill Morrison says the former mayor was out of bounds for having the city pay his $55,747.42 legal bill, and Attorney Jefferson should never have authorized the payments.

"I believe the council needs to look at the legal options that we have to go get the money and put it back in the coffers of the city," said Morrison.

Morrison says Jefferson’s actions demonstrate that he has no place at the head of the city’s legal division.

"I believe it's time for Mr. Jefferson to resign or if necessary be terminated," he added.

Morrison is drafting two resolutions to present at the council’s next meeting September 15th.

One resolution would demand the former mayor return the money or the city will sue him for it.

"If the mayor has a private investigation going and the FBI is investigating his actions as mayor, the city attorney doesn't get involved in that nor do the city taxpayers pay for any private litigation," explained Morrison.

The second resolution would demand Jefferson’s resignation or ask Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery to fire him.

Morrison says the council and the citizens deserve answers after the city attorney stamped the bill with the word “RUSH” about a month and half before Herenton retired July 31st.

"Anytime you rush that amount of money through any process, there have to be some questions.  Those questions were never answered, they were never even asked because no one knew and I think that creates an even bigger issue," Morrison added.

Morrison says the payments are just one of his concerns.

He says the city attorney also withheld other important information from the mayor pro tem about the payment of the legal bill.

"That is our city attorney who is not telling the mayor that the FBI is discussing a payment with him," said Morrison.

Lowery already fired Jefferson once.  It was his first official act after his swearing in ceremony Friday, July 31.

Jefferson returned to work with a restraining order on Sunday, August 2.

A judge later ruled the council would have to vote in order to oust Jefferson, which could now happen.

The resolutions have yet to be heard by the full council.

Action News 5 informed Council Chairman Harold Collins about the resolution to get his reaction. 

Chairman Collins says due process should be the first step.

"First of all, Mr. Jefferson needs to come before the council and explain his reasoning," he commented.

Collins says the council must make a decision based on facts and not what people hear on television or read in the newspaper.

"If Mr. Jefferson paid those fees erroneously, then we will take the appropriate action to get those fees returned," Collins added.

The bill paid for six months of legal work in “The matter of USA versus Willie W. Herenton,” including a fee for research on obstruction of justice and official misconduct.

Attorney Jefferson was unavailable for comment on the Labor day holiday.

Herenton's attorney, Robert Spence, says attorney-client privilege prevents him from making a comment.

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