State ordered to pay fees in Ford ouster case

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A federal judge has ordered the state to pay $117,000 in attorneys fees to state Sen. Ophelia Ford after she filed a lawsuit trying to stop the Senate from voiding her win in a 2005 special election.

The Senate nullified results of the election that sent Ford to Nashville to replace her brother, John Ford, who resigned after 30 years in the Legislature following his indictment on federal corruption charges. The Memphis Democrat sued the Tennessee Senate and Lt. Gov. John Wilder, but the case was dismissed after voters in her district sent her back to the Senate last November in the regular election.

In an order issued this month, U.S District Judge Bernice Donald said Ford was the prevailing party because Donald issued a declaratory judgment against the Senate warning they could not throw out disputed votes without following established, statewide rules for challenging the eligibility of voters.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said he thought awarding attorney's fees to Ford was "ridiculous."

Information from: The Commercial Appeal,

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