Memphis attorney Duncan Ragsdale
, the main antagonist in efforts to block a new downtown arena for an NBA team, filed a surprise motion yesterday evening pointed directly at Appellate Court Judge Holly Lillard
The case is an appeal on an earlier ruling by Chancellor Walter Evans
that an NBA arena is a private expense and therefore not subject to city and county dollars without a voter approval of 75 percent in a referendum. (That percentage would be required by a provision in the state constitution cited in Ragsdale's initial suit.)
Ragsdale is asking that the Tennessee State Supreme Court take control of the Appellate court case, that the Jackson Appellate Court force Lillard to recuse herself from the case, and that Lillard recuse herself from "any further cases before this Court in which Duncan Ragsdale
is an attorney or a party."
According to Ragsdale's suit: "On or before or after June 27, 2001, Appellate Court Judge Holly Lillard
and Charlie Ryan
had a close personal relationship."
Ragsdale asserted that Ryan, as the general manager of the Memphis brach of Ticketmaster, was ipso facto heavily involved in the ticket sales for Grizzlies games.
Ragsdale's motion contends that "Judge Lillard's sitting on this panel and deciding this case, in view of her relationship with Charlie Ryan, General Manager of Ticketmaster ... is improper and, at the very least, gives the impression of impropriety."
Ragsdale bases his arguments on the August 2001 edition of R.S.V.P.
, a Memphis society magazine which features pictures of Memphis notables at social functions. On page 29 of that issue in the top left hand corner, a picture of Ryan and Lillard is shown.
There is no mention of the picture in the accompanying article or any apparent relationship between Ryan and Lillard in the photo, other than the two standing together at a public event.
Ragsdale argues that this picture, taken at the Eternal Egypt Wonders Opening Gala, is proof of involvement, or at least gives the idea of involvement. That idea, according to Ragsdale, might be enough.
"If you appear
... it is as bad as if you are
... ," Ragsdale told the Flyer
in a phone conversation. Ragsdale did not offer any other evidence of an alleged relationship between Lillard and Ryan, and he said that an anonymous caller had called his attention to the picture.
Lillard told the Flyer
that "we are filing an order and I will let that speak for itself." At the same time, Lillard said "all judges attend social functions and have casual friends." When asked directly about her relationship with Ryan, Lillard said that "he and I are casual friends" and that "I have no personal stake in the Memphis Grizzlies."
Ryan was not immediately available for comment.