MILLEDGEVILLE — The first hearing on an ethics complaint filed against Milledgeville City Councilman Phillip Joiner, District 4, has been delayed.
After nearly 30 days of collecting evidence, the City of Milledgeville’s ethics board was set to hold its initial hearing Tuesday on the pending ethics complaint filed by downtown business owner Danielle Fields against Joiner.
City attorney Jimmy Jordan received a letter Friday afternoon from Joiner’s attorney, Donald Oulsnam of Frier & Oulsnam in Milledgeville, requesting a two- to four-week continuance due to Joiner suffering from a fall.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Joiner spent much of [Thursday] night and early [Friday] morning in the hospital after suffering a fall resulting in a separated shoulder and ligament damage. As a result, Mr. Joiner is on bed rest, heavily medicated and cannot drive or otherwise assist in the preparation for the currently scheduled Board of Ethics hearing,” Oulsnam’s letter to Jordan states.
Oulsnam was contacted Friday afternoon by The Union-Recorder but was not reached for comment before press time.
Jordan said Joiner is allowed a continuance because of “good cause.”
“Anytime you’re in a hearing setting, the protocol, whether a court hearing or administrative hearing, a continuance would be granted for good cause. Based on [Oulsnam’s] representations, [Joiner] is unable, due to medication, to participate in preparing defense and will not be able to attend the hearing,” Jordan said. “He is well within the good cause showing for allowing the matter to be continued. The continuance will be granted, so the hearing will not be going forward Tuesday.”
According to the Milledgeville City Council ethics ordinance, “a hearing shall be held within 60 calendar days after filing of the complaint.” Fields filed her complaint May 7, which makes the 60-day mark July 6.
“The provision in the ordinance states that strict compliance with times and dates is not fatal, so it does not invalidate actions ... we try to adhere to them, but they are in some ways like guidelines,” Jordan said. “The fact that Mr. Joiner requested a continuance, he would be barred from objecting to the hearing beyond the 60 days as a result of his request. The hearing has been continued due to his request, not the board’s.”