The Hon. Stephen H. Kehoe, Circuit Court judge for Talbot County, made good on his promise to move swiftly in the case of Bartlett et al. vs. Talbot County last Friday. Kehoe’s ruling validated the appointment of James Corson to replace Lisa Ghezzi on the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission for a five-year term.
The plaintiffs in the case had made the argument that the outgoing County Council did not have the authority to appoint Mr. Corson since Ms. Ghezzi’s term of office ended after its own legislative session was completed.
The County responded by stating that the outgoing Council did in fact have the power to appoint Mr. Corson by citing Bryan v. Makosky (2004) when the lame duck Talbot County Council in 2002 appointed James Bryan to succeed Linda Makosky.
The Supreme Court of Maryland determined that the lame duck Council did not have the right to appoint Mr. Bryan because Ms. Makosky’s seat would not be vacant until after the newly elected council took office.
The legal arguments made by the plaintiffs and Talbot County’s legal team rested on when, by Charter, the Ghezzi term ended.
In the end, Judge Kehoe noted his reading of Bryan v. Makosky and concluded:
“The Talbot County Council that was sitting on November 22, 2022 served until noon on December 5, 2002. The County Council sitting on November 22, 2022 was within its rights to appoint a member of the Planning Commission for the term that expired on December 2, 2022.
The date of the five-year terms was set by the original appointment of the members of the Planning Commission on December 3, 1974. Id. The duration of these terms of office are clear and unambiguous under the terms of the Talbot County Charter and require no aid in interpretation. Therefore, the County Council validly appointed James Corson to replace Lisa Ghezzi.
Accordingly, the Court will deny the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment, deny Ms. Ghezzi’s Motion for Summary Judgment, deny the County’s Motion to Dismiss, grant the County’s Motion for Summary Judgment and declare that James Corson was lawfully appointed to the Talbot County Planning Commission.”
It is not known at this time if the decision would be appealed.
The Spy commented on this unique case last week in our Editor’s Daybook column.