Harford County Council member Jacob Bennett has filed a counter motion for a preliminary injunction against Harford County in its suit aiming to block him from continuing to serve on the council.
The motion was filed Monday. The county originally filed suit against Bennett on Dec. 9 over his eligibility to serve on the council while remaining a public school teacher.
“We’re asking for an expedited judgment as well, but because we feel it’s clear cut in our own favor,” Bennett said.
Since starting on the council last month, Bennett has not been added to the county payroll, received a county phone or been reimbursed for mileage driven, all routine for council members.
The county filed its motion for preliminary injunction on Dec. 28, seeking to remove Bennett from the council, according to Bennett’s lawyer Joe Sandler. If Bennett’s counter motion is granted, Sandler said, Bennett would be added to the payroll and further attempts to block him from the council would be prevented.
Harford County Executive Bob Cassilly previously told The Aegis that a portion of the county code prevents public school teachers from serving on the council. The provision states that a “council member shall not hold any other office of profit or employment in the government of the State of Maryland, Harford County, or any municipality within Harford County.”
Bennett said if his motion is granted, “no due harm” will be done onto Harford County; but the county’s motion, if granted, would be harmful both to him and the residents he represents in District F. He hasn’t been paid for his work as a council member and has been limited in his duties, such as when he was prevented from interviewing Cassilly’s appointees for various county departments.
A status conference for the case is scheduled for Jan. 18, where Sandler said he believes a date to rule on the injunctions will be scheduled.
Sandler said all of the Harford County Circuit Court judges have recused themselves from the case, so senior judge Richard Bernhardt, who retired in 2021 from the Howard County Circuit Court, is the judge for the case.
Linda Settle, chief deputy for the clerk of the circuit court, said it’s normal for a judge to recuse themselves from a case if they know one of the involved parties.
Bennett said that throughout his time on the council so far, he has appreciated the support of his six fellow council members.
He said they are “very supportive of the idea that until this case is settled, that I should be treated just like any other council member.”
The Aegis requested comments from representatives of Cassilly and county attorney Jefferson Blomquist but did not receive a response by the print deadline.