Judge says City of Hannibal violated Franke’s rights to due process
HANNIBAL, Mo. (WGEM) - A Marion County judge has found the City of Hannibal violated 3rd Ward City Councilperson Stephan Franke’s constitutional rights to due process.
The city brought impeachment charges against Franke in January alleging that Franke violated his oath of office by physically assaulting both City Clerk Angel Zerbonia and City Manager Lisa Peck as well as making statements to other female city employees which constitute sexual harassment and created a hostile workplace.
Franke was then suspended from his office prior to receiving a court hearing.
Judge Rachel L. Bringer Shepherd ruled June 27 that Franke’s suspension from office violates the due process clause of the United States and Missouri constitutions as it suspends an official and leaves a ward without representation based simply on the accusation of wrongdoing.
The court ordered Franke to be reinstated to his 3rd Ward seat pending the outcome of the impeachment hearing. However, the court denied Franke’s request to scuttle the impeachment proceedings.
Shepherd stated a home rule charter city like Hannibal has the power to hold impeachment proceedings as provided by Missouri law. She also ruled that a clause in the city’s charter requires the Missouri Rules of Criminal Procedure be applied to the impeachment proceeding, which she said would provide adequate protection of Franke’s rights.
In a statement released Monday, Franke said he is “committed to demonstrating his innocence of the allegations in the impeachment, which he believes are retaliation against him resulting from his December request that a third party human resources consultant come in and do objective exit interviews of those who report to the City Manager and City Clerk.”
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