The role of mayor in Sparta Township is mostly ceremonial, so much so that the people of Sparta don’t even elect their mayor. The town council, a five-member body, elects one of its own each year to fill the role, signing documents for the council and representing Sparta at public events. Each January, they rotate the job to another member.
It’s all pretty ordinary and mundane, at least until this year. Shortly after the council elected Councilman Jerard J. Murphy mayor on January 7, Murphy announced that he had a court date later this month stemming from a lawsuit he’s filed against Sparta.
Murphy was allegedly pulled over in February 2016 and charged with drunk driving. In January 2018, he pleaded guilty to a reduced dirty license plate violation and paid a $100 fine. In the meantime, Murphy, a councilman since 2013, learned that he was intentionally targeted by police.
He sued, alleging that the department was retaliating for actions he took as a councilman. The case would later be thrown out by a judge, but Murphy’s lawyers are fighting to bring it back to life. The vote to elect Murphy mayor was 3-2. When news of the ongoing litigation against Sparta broke, the councilors who voted with him were quick to share that they were unaware of it at the time.
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