Judge: DuPree must resubmit nominees

Forrest County Circuit Judge Bob Helfrich has issued a ruling requiring Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree to present his department heads to the city council for a vote.

The ruling is a result of a lawsuit filed by three current and former city councilmen who claim the mayor has had reasonable time to resubmit his appointments as required by state law.

Judge Helfrich ruled that state law requires a mayor to renominate or resubmit his department heads for city council approval each four-year term of office.

Helfrich ruled that while the mayor may be the same, the makeup of the council could change.

DuPree has stated in a court deposition that his interpretation of the law indicates no need for reappointments and that his reelection was not only a sign of support for him but his department heads as well.

Judge Helfrich's decision Friday did not address the controversial issue of reasonable time. Helfrich said that phrase could vary from one situation to another. He did point out that the city council on May 2 adopted a resolution that reasonable time has expired.

DuPree spokesman John Brown says the mayor has not seen a copy of the ruling, and no decision on a possible appeal has been made.