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July 23, 2013

Chet Pleban Gets Ellisville Mayor, Adam Paul, Reinstated

Via St. Louis Post Dispatch

Ellisville Mayor Adam Paul was moments away from winning a political battle that had consumed him and his city for the past six months, but Paul had no idea.

The mayor sat quietly in the courtroom on Monday morning while his attorneys argued in St. Louis County Circuit Judge David Lee Vincent’s chambers.

Just last month, Vincent temporarily reinstated Paul to the mayor’s seat after he was booted from office in April.

Lawyer John Maupin, who represented the city, had filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider the reinstatement.

In the courtroom, Paul yawned, rubbed his eyes, admitting that he had been up most of the night before trying to write a speech for his city’s July 4 celebration.

Now he wondered if he would get to deliver it.

After about an hour, Paul’s attorney — Chet Pleban — along with Maupin returned to the courtroom.

Paul could only make out bits of their conversation, but the words “permanent” and “final” stood out.

In a surprise move, Vincent not only denied Maupin’s motion, but he also made Paul’s temporary reinstatement permanent.

“I can’t believe it,” the mayor responded. “I really can’t.”

There were no spectators to witness the mayor’s legal victory, except for a couple of reporters.

It was a sharp contrast to Paul’s ouster in April, a three-day spectacle attended by hundreds of residents, most of whom supported Paul and believed the charges against him were trumped up.

A political newcomer, Paul rode into office last year on a wave of opposition to a controversial Walmart project supported by most of the City Council. Soon the 32-year-old mayor found himself at odds with his colleagues.

Eventually Paul was brought up on several charges, including: giving illegal orders to employees, leaking confidential information, holding illegal meetings and trying to dodge a subpoena.

It was that last allegation that undid the effort to have him removed.

Vincent ruled that because the council added the subpoena charge at the last minute, Paul had no time to prepare a defense.

“The City Council violated Paul’s procedural due process rights…” the judge wrote.

With three new members on the City Council, the balance of power has shifted toward Paul since his removal, making it unlikely the city will appeal Vincent’s decision.

Councilman Matt Pirrello — a key figure behind Paul’s removal — did not return a phone call seeking comment. Pirrello promised to resign if Paul was permanently reinstated.

On his way out of the courtroom Monday, Paul called his wife to give her the news.

“It’s over,” he told her.

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