Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Court Rules Jabour's Seat Invalidated; Councilman's Residency at Center of Case

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Court Rules Jabour's Seat Invalidated; Councilman's Residency at Center of Case

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH KORMANIK

Jacksonville City Councilman Jay Jabour's term appears headed to a premature end after an appeals court Friday upheld a lower court's decision to invalidate his election.

The 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee did not issue an opinion, but the unanimous ruling affirmed a trial judge's finding that Jabour lived outside the residency boundaries for his seat, making him ineligible to hold office.

"I just think justice has been served," said Bob Harms, who filed the lawsuit after losing to Jabour in a May runoff. "I hope this discourages other people from going through this facade."

The ruling means Jabour could be forced from office as soon as a stay on the trial court's decision is lifted.

The swiftness of the appellate ruling, which came just two days after arguments before the court, stunned both sides.

Jabour now has 15 days to request an opinion from the court, which is needed to appeal the case to the Florida Supreme Court. If that request is denied, his legal challenge will end.

Jabour said he will request the opinion because he wants an explanation. "I do know this: We didn't win," he said.

John Mills, a Jacksonville appellate attorney not involved in the case, said the odds of the getting an opinion are "extremely slim" because the court rarely grants those motions.

"They have some technical options," he said, "but from a practical standpoint, it's over."

Harms, a Democrat, filed the suit against Jabour, a Republican, last year after disputing that Jabour lived in the residency area for the at-large council seat.

Under Jacksonville's charter, five at-large council members are elected by all Duval County voters, but candidates must reside in a designated area for each seat for at least 183 days before qualifying to run. For Jabour's Group 2 seat, the area includes the Beaches and parts of Arlington. …

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