News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

November 14, 2008

It's not over yet: Bennett says legal team reviewing options

TERRE HAUTE — Mayor Duke Bennett faced a room full of news media Thursday and tried to assure the people of Terre Haute he remains fully in charge in City Hall.

Bennett used the 15-minute media conference, which was attended by more than a dozen reporters in his approximately 350 square-foot office, to suggest he plans to appeal Thursday’s decision handed down by the Indiana Court of Appeals in his legal battle with former mayor Kevin Burke.

“We have an opinion now from the Court of Appeals and the next step — as many people thought might happen anyway — we’ll go to the [Indiana] Supreme Court.”

Bennett said his legal team is still looking at other possible options, but he made clear the most likely next step in the case is an appeal to the state’s highest court.

“Now we’re in a situation where we need to take that next step ourselves to make sure that the Supreme Court of the State of Indiana is the most likely place for this to land and we’ll let them decide how these kinds of things should be handled in the State of Indiana,” Bennett told reporters.

Bennett set the media conference for 4 p.m. Thursday after news broke around 9 a.m. that the Court of Appeals had made a ruling in the Bennett v. Burke case. The court ruled that neither Bennett nor Burke should sit in the mayor’s office and the city should hold a special election to fill the top City Hall position.

On three different occasions during the news conference, Bennett noted that the Court of Appeals is asking for a solution that neither side – Burke or Bennett – wanted. Burke was asking the court to return him to the mayor’s job. Bennett was asking that Burke’s challenge be rejected.

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