Norman City Council member Kelly Lynn, who is seeking reelection to Ward 3, effectively vacated his position when he accepted a judgeship in Wewoka, an attorney hired by the city concluded.
City Attorney Kathryn Walker notified councilors Tuesday night the city had hired the Spencer Fane law firm after the Transcript reported last month that Lynn had recently been hired as a municipal judge.
Walker asked the firm to determine whether Lynn had violated state law by holding dual offices.
The law firm cited an Oklahoma Supreme Court opinion that both positions are offices under the law and determined that “the moment he accepts the new office the old one becomes vacant.”
“The Councilmember ran afoul (of state law) and vacated his Norman City Council seat when he accepted the municipal judgeship in Wewoka,” the law firm stated in its opinion.
“The City Council may declare the seat vacant and appoint a successor for the remainder of the Councilmember’s term or may seek declaratory judgement from the Cleveland County District Court.”
Walker’s memo to the council indicated the violation is a criminal misdemeanor.
Reached Tuesday night, Lynn said he has been asked to step down but has no intention of doing so.
“They were trying work a deal to get me to step down,” Lynn said. “I’m not doing anything.”
Lynn cited a constitutional provision he said allows him to hold two offices simultaneously.
During a meeting with Walker and City Manager Darrel Pyle on Feb. 3 to discuss “resignation,” Lynn cited a section of the Oklahoma Constitution which exempts municipal court judges from rules against justices and district court judges engaging in the practice of law or holding an office or position of profit.
Walker indicated she sought an opinion on the constitutional provision but did not have one as of Tuesday.
Lynn, who was first elected to the council in 2020, is running for reelection on Tuesday and is facing challenger Bree Montoya.
In an email obtained by The Transcript, Walker indicated the firm had been hired to look into the matter.
In the email, Walker cited state law, Title 51, section 6, which states that “[e]xcept as may be otherwise provided, no person holding an office under the laws of the state and no deputy of any officer so holding any office shall, during the person’s term of office, hold any other office or be the deputy of any officer holding any office, under the laws of the state.”
She also noted an Oklahoma Attorney General’s opinion which finds both positions are defined as offices under the law.
Lynn told The Transcript he sought the city’s advice before taking the judgeship and was given permission to do so. Walker’s memo to the council indicated Lynn had asked if there was any conflict of interest if he performed “legal work” for another city and did not indicate it was as a judge.
“She never asked,” Lynn said Tuesday night.
Asked if the matter was a miscommunication, Lynn responded, “A miscommunication is very damning in the legal word. That’s incompetence in the legal world.”
Mindy Wood covers City and County government news and notable lawsuits for The Transcript. Reach her at [email protected] or 405-416-4420.
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