LATTA, S.C. (WBTW) — An injunction blocking the winner of Latta’s mayoral race from being inaugurated needs to stay in place, the town’s attorney argued in court Friday morning.
“If nothing is done, it’s going to create anarchy and chaos,” Janet Paschal, the town’s attorney, said.
A temporary injunction has prevented the race’s winner, Robbie Coward, from becoming mayor. However, Coward has responded in legal documents that he had no plans to be sworn in earlier this month.
An emergency meeting held Monday night discussed the lack of a new mayor after a housing dispute led to a court injunction that overturned the results of the November election. In the meantime, the previous mayor is holding the position.
The injunction was issued following questions about whether the winner, Robbie Coward, lives in Latta or Dillon. Latta’s Municipal Election Commission found that he lived in Dillon, but Coward’s attorneys have said in an appeal that he met all the residency requirements to run, and that his own vote was counted in the election without any issues.
In a legal response, Coward said that after the election was protested and appealed, he approached the town clerk, Rebecca Page, about the swearing-in ceremony.
“I made no demands to be sworn in and after talking with my attorney I was informed that all election matters, including the swearing-in ceremony, are postponed until the resolution of the appeal,” Coward said in court documents.
He said he didn’t expect to be sworn in on Jan. 1 or Jan. 2, and didn’t make plans to be.
An email included in the documents disputes that, and claims that Coward “very openly stated to numerous persons that he will be sworn in on January 1, 2022 by a notary public,” and that he called the town clerk and told her to order him a name plate and give him the council’s meeting schedule. The email, signed Paschal, was sent to Coward’s attorney alerting them she’d file for a temporary restraining order to prevent Coward from taking power as mayor.
In court documents, Coward said he thinks the injunction was deliberately filed to make it look like he intended to become mayor, and that it was filed shortly after he talked to the clerk. He said he and his lawyers didn’t have the chance to respond to the motion before it was filed and executed by a judge.
“Had the parties properly communicated their concerns to my leaders and I, they would have known this injunction is absolutely unnecessary,” the affidavit documents read.
In court Friday, Coward’s attorney argued that there’s no need to continue the injunction. He said that if Coward broke state election laws, he’d be banned from running again.
The judge said he’d take the information under advisement. Another court date has not been announced.