Walker County Commission et al.
David Kelly et al.
from Walker Circuit Court (CV-15-900291)
Walker County Commission and Commissioners Keith Davis, Bobby
Nunnelly, Steven Aderhold, and Billy Luster, individually and
in their official capacities (hereinafter referred to
collectively as "the Commission"), the plaintiffs
below, appeal from a judgment of the Walker Circuit Court in
favor of David Kelly, individually and in his official
capacity as chairman of the Walker County Civil Service
Board, and board members Rufus Reed, Donald Baxter, Raymond
Bennett, and Gary Davis, individually (the chairman and the
individual members are hereinafter referred to collectively
as "the Board"), the defendants below. For the
reasons discussed below, we dismiss the appeal.
and Procedural History
Russell was employed as a revenue auditor for Walker County.
She was suspended and reprimanded, and she was terminated
from her employment effective December 2, 2014. Russell
appealed the suspension and termination to the Walker County
Civil Service Board, which reversed the suspension and
termination and ordered that she be reinstated to her
position as a revenue auditor.
30, 2015, the Commission sued the Board in the Walker Circuit
Court. In the "Facts" section of the complaint, it
set forth facts purporting to establish that the Board had
violated the Alabama Open Meetings Act, see Ala.
Code 1975, § 36-25A-1 et seq., in its handling of
Russell's appeal. At the conclusion of the
"Facts" section, the Commission stated:
"11. By disregarding the requirements for proper notice
of any meeting held by the Walker County Civil Service Board
to discuss the merits of the Susan Russell case, the Walker
County Civil Service Board violated the Alabama Open Meetings
Act and thus any action taken by the Walker County Civil
Service Board in its secret meeting is invalid and is due to
be set aside pursuant to the applicable provisions of the
Alabama Open Meetings Act.
"WHEREFORE, the [Commission] request[s] all relief to
which [it is] entitled pursuant to the provisions of the
Alabama Open Meetings Act, including but not limited to
invalidating all actions and/or orders taken and/or entered
by the Walker County Civil Service Board in violation of the
Commission also sought a permanent injunction, arguing that
the Walker County Civil Service Board routinely issued orders
regarding employee matters and had other "secret
closed-door meetings, " all allegedly in violation of
the Alabama Open Meetings Act. In this section of its
complaint, it requested that the circuit court:
"(A) ... [E]nter a permanent injunction prohibiting the
[Board] from convening secret closed-door meetings and
requiring that all deliberations must be had only after an
appropriate meeting has first been convened in compliance
with the Alabama Open Meetings Act;
"(B) ... [D]eclare that the Walker County Civil Service
Board and its members are subject to the Alabama Open
Meetings Act, Alabama Code 1975, Section 3-25A-1 et seq.;
"(C) ... [G]rant any additional relief to which the
[Commission] may be entitled."
the Commission requested a declaratory judgment, asserting,
in relevant part, as follows:
"18. Should this Honorable Court determine the Walker
County Commission is not a proper party Plaintiff to this
Complaint, then the Walker County Commission respectfully
requests that it be made a necessary party Plaintiff pursuant
to Rule 19 of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure and this
Court declare that the Walker County Commission is a
necessary party Plaintiff to this action.
"19. In the alternative, the Walker County Commission
respectfully requests this Honorable Court to declare Section
6-25A-9 of the Alabama Code, 1975 as amended, to be
unconstitutional to the extent it restricts and prevents any
person or entity who has been impacted by an alleged
violation of the Open Meetings Act from commencing an action
because the person or entity may not meet the definition of
an entity or person otherwise allowed to bring an action
pursuant to the Alabama Open Meetings Act. Any aggrieved
individual or entity should be allowed to remedy the alleged
violation and to prevent further alleged violations of the
Alabama Open Meetings Act. The Walker County Commission
further requests that the Attorney General for the State of
Alabama be made a necessary party to this action for the
purposes of declaring said Alabama Code Section
unconstitutional and/or to pursue this matter."
August 17, 2015, the Board filed an answer to the
Commission's complaint. On that same date, it also filed
a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that "the
Plaintiffs are not property party Plaintiff[s] to bring this
action; Section 6-25A-9 Code of Alabama."
September 10, 2015, the Board filed an amended answer and a
counterclaim seeking a declaratory judgment. It alleged that,
"when acting in a quasi-judicial capacity in hearing,
deliberating and deciding a contested case, [it is] not
required to give notice of a meeting or ...