Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich’s office is asking the president of the Prichard City Council to prove in court she actually lives there.
Rich said a trial date is set for Monday, May 19 for Earline Martin-Harris to dispute a court filing claiming she lives in Daphne. The three-page document alleges that Martin-Harris has a home in Daphne, she works in Daphne, her kids go to public school in Daphne and she does her routine shopping in Daphne.
If the court agrees, Martin-Harris will be forced to give up her seat on the council. The state would also recover court costs from the defendant.
When contacted by Lagniappe, Martin-Harris said she would be willing to comment once she hired an attorney. Further attempts to reach her since have been unsuccessful.
Rich said the case came about after her office launched a months-long investigation based on a complaint from a citizen.
Prichard Mayor Troy Ephriam said the issue of Martin-Harris’ residency initially came up two years ago, while he was still a member of council. He said the complaint was lodged by residents from his district. He said there was a vote on the issue at that time, but he recused himself.
“My only concern was whether the constituents were being represented,” he said.
Ephriam said now he hopes this court case won’t be a distraction, as the city deals with the aftermath of flooding in Martin-Harris’ district.
“This is an issue that she has to resolve,” Ephriam said. “We have to let it run its course. There are decisions she will have to make.”
Martin-Harris was elected in August of 2012.