Latta Mayoral Candidate’s Attorney Warns Of Legal Action If Election Proceeds As Voted On By Council

Tommy Morgan of Smith Robinson Holler DuBose and Morgan, LLC, the attorney for Latta mayoral candidate Teresa Mason, has sent a letter addressed to the Latta Town Mayor, members of the Latta Town Council, and the Latta Town Administrator advising them if the election proceeds in the format as the Latta Town Council voted that legal action will be taken.
The letter reads from Morgan reads as follows:
Madam Mayor, Members of Latta Town Council, and Latta Town Administrator:
I represent Teresa Johnson Mason regarding the recent Mayoral Election for the Town of Latta. As you are aware, at the election on December 7, 2021, Henry L. Coward (a/k/a Robbie Coward) was purportedly elected Mayor over the other candidate, Mrs. Mason, and write-ballots. Mrs. Mason timely filed an election protest and the Town of Latta Municipal Election Commission (“MEC”) held a hearing on December 11, 2021. Based upon the evidence and testimony, including that of Mr. Coward, the MEC issued an Order (enclosed as Exhibit A) finding Mr. Coward ineligible to serve as Mayor and invalidating the election result. Mr. Coward appealed the MEC’s decision to the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas as Civil Action No. 2021-CP-17-00522.
Ultimately, all parties executed and filed a Stipulation of Dismissal With Prejudice of all claims on June 30, 2022. A copy of the Stipulation is enclosed as Exhibit B.
On July 14, 2022, the Latta Town Council – against the legal advice of its attorney – voted 5-2 to hold a de novo special election, thus allowing new parties to enter the race for Mayor of the Town of Latta. The video of the meeting can be found at:
The decision of Latta Town Council to hold a de novo special election goes against the election laws passed by our General Assembly, the unambiguous and clear caselaw from our courts, and the competent advice of the Town’s counsel. The law is clear: “The only relief the Commission may order is ‘a new election as to the parties concerned.’ Armstrong v. Atlantic Beach Municipal Election Commission, 380 S.C. 47,49,668 S.E. 2d 400, 401 (2008) (emphasis added). A copy of this opinion is enclosed as Exhibit C. The Armstrong Court, in making its decision, relied upon South Carolina Code Ann. §5-15-130 and found that it was an error to reopen the filing period for candidates of the contested election. The exact same scenario is present here. It would be wrong for the Town of Latta to reopen the filing period for this contested election. Instead, the special election should be held with Mrs. Mason and “write-in” as the only two candidates on the ballot.
Mrs. Mason does not wish to do so but is willing and prepared to take any and all legal action necessary to uphold the laws of South Carolina and maintain the integrity of this election. Mrs. Mason has solid legal precedent to support her position and is confident a legal challenge will result in a decision in her favor. If Mrs. Mason is forced to pursue legal action she will request attorney’s fees pursuant to South Carolina Code Ann. §15-77-300.
However, we are hopeful this letter and enclosed information will trigger reconsideration by Latta Town Council that will result with a vote by Town Council to properly conduct the special election without reopening the filing period. We are confident that the Town of Latta, just like Mrs. Mason, wants to do the right thing and will cause the Town’s Mayoral election to be held in such a manner that restores the faith of its citizens that the Town of Latta respects its sworn duties to follow the laws of South Carolina.
The letter is signed by Morgan and includes exhibits such as the order overturning the election, the dismissal, and a court case which states there should be no denovo election.

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