A Scott County District Court judge has denied a request to reconsider his ruling assessing costs of Scott County Supervisor John Maxwell's successful appeal of a vacancy panel ruling to Scott County residents Matt Trimble and Carlton Wills.
Trimble and Wills petitioned for a March 15 vacancy hearing before the panel.
Their attorney, Jim Larew of Iowa City, had argued that his clients should not be penalized for raising a legitimate question about a potential conflict in Maxwell's dual roles as both a supervisor and North Scott school board member and for exercising their First Amendment rights "to petition their grievances to their government."
"I don't think citizens should be deterred from asking a panel that is created by law to address exactly the topic that was addressed here," Larew previously told the Quad-City Times.
Larew had asked the court to amend its ruling and list Trimble and Wills as third-party intervenors representing "the interests of Scott County voters who signed petitions to trigger a public hearing pursuant to Iowa Code," and to assess the costs of the appeal to Maxwell.
District Court Judge Patrick McElyea, in an order issued Monday, said the "costs were properly assessed to the 'losing party.'"
McElyea, in his order, said Maxwell's appeal required the court to "determine anew all questions arising in the case."
"This means the parties were in the same positions they were in before the vacancy panel," McElyea wrote. "The Intervenors 'petitioned' to convene the vacancy panel and raised the issue of whether Maxwell could serve. For purposes of assigning parties for the appeal, the Court finds it was appropriate to designate the Intervenors as Petitioners."
McElyea last week sided with Maxwell and overturned a three-person panel’s decision to declare his spot on the county board vacant because of his membership on the North Scott School Board.
The question arose out of Maxwell's dual roles on the Davenport City Conference Board, which appoints and oversees the city assessor, as both a supervisor and North Scott School Board member.
Larew said his clients had not decided if they would appeal McElyea's ruling overturning the vacancy panel's decision.
He also said it was not clear what his clients would be made to pay in court costs.
"The costs will be determined by the Clerk of Court," but typically include the $195 filing fee and $40 court reporter fee "at a minimum," Larew responded in an email.