A 2nd District Court judge will hear evidence Dec. 7 to determine if two Davis County commissioners and the interim county clerk should be removed from office for malfeasance, misuse of public funds and interfering with another county official's duties.
The court date was set Tuesday by Judge Douglas L Cornaby, who will hear the evidence and rule if Commissioners Harold E. Tippetts, William Peters, and former Commissioner Glen Saunders should be removed from office.The charges were filed by eight Davis County residents under a 1953 Utah law that allows citizens to petition the district court for removal of public officials for malfeasance or abuse of their office.
Because some of the charges involve the Davis County attorney's office, which normally would prosecute the complaint, the investigation has been taken over by Weber County Attorney Reed Richards, on recommendation of the state attorney general's office.
In a meeting Tuesday, Cornaby scheduled the Dec. 7 evidence hearing, to be preceded by a Nov. 21 pretrial conference.
The complaint makes nine charges ranging from misuse of county bond money to buy land for a fairgrounds adjacent to the new county justice complex to interfering with County Auditor Ruth Kennington's official duties.
The complaint brings to a head a long-running political battle between the commissioners and the auditor. Kennington has repeatedly denied having anything to do with the complaint, but the commissioners charge information used in the document came from her office.
The charges, some of which date back to 1983, have been examined before and found to be groundless, the commissioners said. All of their actions were done after legal consultation and on the advice of the county attorney's office, they said.
The complaint was placed on the desk of 2nd District Court Presiding Judge Ronald O. Hyde in Ogden on Sept. 9, just four days before the Sept. 13 primary election.
Hyde transferred it to Cornaby, who examined it and ordered it filed with the county clerk, giving it legal status, on Sept. 15.
The timing, the three accused men charge, was political. They said the complaint was a major factor in Tippets losing his bid for another commission term and Saunders losing in his try for the county clerk's post, which he has filled on a temporary basis after resigning from the commission this summer.
Reed Oviatt, a tax initiative backer and one of the signers, has denied the complaint was filed as a political ploy. His group has spent several months gathering evidence and facts and responded to a challenge by the commissioners to "put up or shut up" with their charges, he said.