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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City

Bowden v Tucker, Rudimentary Court Rules Out the Window: Tucker Removed From Dist. 10 Race

LAKE CITY, FL – Wednesday morning, former Congresswoman Corrine Brown's long time District Supervisor (Jacksonville), Glenel Bowden, dragged VA hospital staffer and Lake City resident Clarence Tucker into the Columbia County/Lake City Circuit Court seeking an injunction to remove Mr. Tucker from the upcoming City election ballot. Mr. Bowden claimed that Mr. Tucker did not live in the district to satisfy the Lake City Charter requirement for one year prior residency for city council candidates.

Background


This case had public interest.

According to voter records obtained from the Supervisor of Elections, Mr. Tucker had registered to vote at the NE Coldwater address in February 2017, well over the one year minimum residency requirement.

Prior to filing his civil complaint on July 9, Mr. Bowden had been claiming that Mr. Tucker had committed perjury by not living at the Coldwater address. He had also been trying to persuade the City Council to file perjury charges against Mr. Tucker with the State Attorney.

At the July 9 City Council meeting, Chief Gilmore, responding to a question from your reporter, said the police had finished its investigation of the Tucker residency and its investigation was turned over the State Attorney.

Mr. Bowden is a resident of Lake City's election district 10. However, nowhere in his de minimis one page "Petition for Injunctive Relief" does he state that he is a voter in district 10.


Click to see Mr. Bowden's complaint

Mr. Bowden's Petition Fails on Every Level

Mr. Bowden provided neither the law, which gives the court jurisdiction, or any factual background to support his allegations.

Mr. Bowden did not state why he had standing and should be recognized by the court.

Mr. Bowden did not provide the section of the City Charter that he claimed Mr. Tucker violated.

Injunctive Relief

In Florida, Mr. Bowden needed to prove four things in order to obtain injunctive relief, something which courts do not grant lightly.

He must prove that he will suffer irreparable harm; has no adequate remedy at law: has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; and the injunction will serve the public interest.

Courts throughout the country, and Florida, require that these four elements must be clearly established before an injunction is granted.

Cause of Action

The heart of any complaint is the fact or combination of facts that gives a person the right to seek judicial redress for a grievance against another party.

Mr. Bowden's request for relief is absent any clearly definable cause of action. He never claimed he was a registered voter in district 10, and while he claimed Mr. Tucker violated the City Charter, he could not provide a copy when Judge Decker said he could not find it.

The Testimony

No record was made of the court appearance by either the plaintiff or the defendant. Judge Decker referred to the court recording system, however, this is not a record that in civil cases can be used for motions or appeals.

Judge Decker did not advise either Mr. Bowden or Mr. Tucker, both of whom appeared without an attorney, that if they thought they would need an official record of the proceedings they needed to provide a court reporter.

Mr. Bowden: Plaintiff

Mr. Bowden is highly respected in some areas of the community Lake City community. His presentation of the case was rambling and hearsay filled.

Mr. Bowden never stated how he would be impacted if his request for an injunction was not granted. Mr. Bowden is not an elected official and could only represent himself at the hearing.

Mr. Bowden presented to the court as an exhibit a purported lease for the Coldwater Avenue flat. The lease was not to Mr. Tucker, but to Willie J. Bradley.


Judge Decker confers with bailiffs before they were sent to pick up Mr. Bradley. Mr. Tucker looks on. The Observer was advised by reliable sources that this was unusual

Mr. Bradley was subpoenaed to appear in court. He didn't. Judge Decker sent the Sheriff's deputies to try and find him and pick him up. They did.

A long time member of the Clerk's Office said that they had never seen that happen before.

Mr. Tucker: Defendant

Mr. Tucker was not represented by an attorney. He did not appear to fully grasp what was going on. He asked no questions. The Supervisor of Elections' records show that he was registered to vote at Coldwater Avenue in February of 2017. He did not have this information with him and may not have known the information was available to him.

Mr. Tucker testified that he only stayed at Coldwater Avenue a couple of days a week, as he spent the rest of the time staying with his mother and taking care of her.

Mr. Tucker did not question the authenticity of any of the exhibits presented by Mr. Bowden. It is not clear that he knew if he could.

Willie J. Bradley: Witness


Willy J. Bradley testified that he couldn't read.

Willie J. Bradley was delivered to the Court after a short recess.

Judge Decker asked Mr. Bradley when Mr. Tucker began residing at Coldwater Avenue.

Mr. Bradley's answer was unintelligible. Judge Decker asked, "Was it sometime this year?"

Mr. Bradley answered, "Yes."

He also answered "yes" when Judge Decker asked if he sometimes stayed with his mother.

Mr. Bowden provided a copy of the lease which he claimed he received from Mr. Bradley's landlord; then asked Mr. Bradley if he read the lease before he signed it. Mr. Bradley said he couldn't read.

Mr. Tucker: Defendant

Judge Decker asked Mr. Tucker if he had any evidence to present.

Mr. Tucker said, "No sir."

Mr. Tucker contradicted Mr. Bradley's remark that he began residing at Coldwater Avenue "this year. It was last year," he said.

Judge Decker asked, "You're saying that he's wrong?"

Mr. Tucker answered, "No. No. I'm not saying that he's completely wrong – he just – look, I understand Mr. Bradley. He's just probably still under pressure. But it was last year – on February."

Closing: Mr. Bowden


Glenel Bowden addresses the Court.

Mr. Bowden told the court, "... the evidence presented was overwhelming that Mr. Tucker have not resided at the residence that he say on his affidavit... I think the testimony that have been presented here today -- Mr. Tucker have not offered anything to refute that, other than his word."

Mr. Bowden asked for the injunction "because it [Mr. Tucker's presence on the ballot] would cause disruption and confusion..."

Judge Decker asked if Mr. Bowden had a copy of the section 301b of the City Charter. "Do you have a copy of that... I tried to find that on line and was unable to..."

After a rambling answer, Mr. Bowden said, "To answer your question, no, I don't have it with me."


Clarence Tucker examines an exhibit.

Closing: Mr. Tucker

Mr. Tucker said, "The only thing I have is a lot of bills that I received –unintelligible- in Coldwater."

Mr. Tucker held up what looked like a handful of mail. Judge Decker didn't ask to see any of it.

Mr. Bowden repeated what he had said before.

Mr. Tucker asked to address the Court.

Judge Decker recognized him, "Yes sir."

Mr. Tucker: "My driver's license says, 'From February of 2017 to February of 2018 and up until – just – just 12th of this month which I moved the address –unintelligible- within the district.'"

Judge Decker asked to see the license.

Mr. Tucker walked to the bench with a bailiff and showed his license to the Judge.

The Judge examined his license for about 30 seconds and began to read, "This says Clarence Tucker 705 NE Richardson Terrace, Lake City, Florida?"

Mr. Tucker said, "Yes sir. That's where I moved from [to] because of the –unintelligible- my friend's landlord. I moved from [to] there."

Judge Decker ruled from the bench

After a few introductory remarks Judge Decker stated, "Based on the substantial competent evidence presented, the Court finds that you do not qualify as a resident of district 10 at 923 Coldwater... The court does not find the testimony from you and Mr. Bradley creditable as to the cash arrangements for the payment of lease... There is no substantial competent evidence to indicate that you actually maintain a residence as required by the City of Lake City Charter in order to be eligible to run for District 10 City Council office. The Court will enter an order finding that you are not qualified for that reason. This hearing is concluded."

Epilogue

As the attendees began to file out, City Attorney Fred Koberlein told Mr. Bowden that he was going to file a motion to recover costs.

Later in the day, your reporter spoke to a highly placed official familiar with the facts of the case. "I've known Mr. Tucker for a long time. I don't think that he would lie."

Early Thursday morning, Judge Decker filed his order with the court.

Judge Decker didn't think so.

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