A University of Memphis law professor, a published expert on election reform and election law, is being sued by his opponent in a County Commission race. The accusation? That the expert is lying to the election commission.
Steven Mulroy has lived in with his family for five and a half years at 199 Dille Place. It's in County Commission District 1.
But he is renting 755 S. Graham in District 5. He signed the rental agreement the day before he filed a qualifying petition to run for that County Commission seat.
"I checked with the county attorney and with the administrator of elections about what to do and I followed their procedures to the letter. I'm sleeping in the house. I've been sleeping in the house since the day that I qualified," he says.
But Joe Cooper - who's running against him - doesn't believe it. He says he's got evidence and he's suing to have Mulroy thrown out of the race.
"I don't think he lived in the district - or lives in the district - when he filed his petition. It ought to be a fair playing field. I guarantee you if I wasn't in district 5, they'd be coming after me like gangbusters," says Cooper.
Mulroy is emphatic. "It's not true," he says. "I do live in the district. I moved into a rental house until such time as we can buy a house in the district and then my family will join me."
Cooper's lawyers came to Chancery Court prepared to call witnesses, including process server Charlie Fineberg, who delivered the suit to Mulroy Monday night and found him at his home outside the district.
"He came to the door with no shoes on, evidentially his wife and his children were all in there having a good time. I saw no boxes or anything to say he was moving. They were all just having a good time," says Fineberg.
Election Commissioner Greg Duckett - also named in the lawsuit - says Joe Cooper jumped the gun because the petitions aren't even official yet. "Until the election commission has actually voted to certify, it would be my personal and professional opinion that a lawsuit at this point in time is totally inappropriate."