Berry still won’t discuss verdict

Published 9:45 pm Friday, October 9, 2009

More than a week after being removed from office by a court ruling, former District 6 Pike County Commissioner Karen Berry still hasn’t responded publicly.

Several attempts to call and e-mail Berry, who was ordered to vacate her commission seat on Oct. 1, have been unreturned.

Calls and even a letter delivered to Berry’s attorney Frank Ralph have gone unanswered, as well.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Circuit Judge Joel Holley ruled that 10 illegal votes were cast for Berry in the November 2008 election, and the removal of those votes made Oren Fannin the winner of that election.

Fannin has officially taken office, but it wasn’t without some opposition from Berry’s attorney, who attempted to have Berry remain in office pending a potential appeal.

No appeal has been filed at this time, but several county residents are wondering if one will come.

According to a poll on The Messenger’s Web site, 15 percent of the poll’s voters would like to know the answer.

Another 38 percent said they believe it would be responsible of Berry to voice her side of the story to her former constituents.

After Fannin took office Monday, he said there is a chance Berry could request and even earn a right to keep her commission seat pending an appeal, should she file one.

Fannin’s attorney Joel Lee Williams said that process would require Berry to file a request with Holley. She could also file a request with Holley for a new trial or an appeal with the state Supreme Court, if she does not agree with the verdict.

A notice of appeal would first be filed in the Pike County Circuit Office.

Although Berry was ordered to vacate her office, County Attorney Allen Jones said the votes she has cast since November 2008 will not be impacted.

Since there is legal precedent allowing a person to remain in office pending an election contest, all action taken with her vote would remain unchanged, Jones said.

Further, Jones said the court order did not address that issue, and the commission will simply abide by the terms of the court order.

The court order also did not address commissioner compensation, and it the opinion of Jones that Berry would retain her compensation through Sept. 30 and the compensation for Fannin would commence upon his swearing in date.

The Alabama Examiners of Public Accounts, according to Jones, concurs with that conclusion.