A D.C. Superior Court judge ruled yesterday that D.C. City Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis, whose May 1 election was challenged on residency grounds, was a legal resident of the city during the full year prior to her election.
Judge James A. Belson, in a fact-finding report ordered by the D.C. Court of Appeals, found that Jarvis moved from Chevy Chase, Md., in October 1977 to upper Northwest Washington "with the intent to stay in the District of Columbia indefinitely."
In hearings before Belson last week, Norman Neverson, the second highest vote-getter in the election that Jarvis won, called a parade of witnesses - some of them also losers in the election - to testify in support of his claim that Jarvis had not been a resident of the District for the required one year before her election.
Two of Neverson's witnesses testified they saw Jarvis driving a large gray car with Maryland license plates during the year before the election.But Belson found that Jarvis "did not drive a Lincoln automobile with Maryland tage" during the one year before Jarvis was elected.
Belson agreed in his findings with Neverson that after Charlene and William Jarvis moved into the District, they did not notify the Montgomery County school system of her address change. As a result, the Jarvis' son attended county schools for a year without paying a non-resident tuition, the judge found.
In addition, Belson found that although Jarvis had moved into the District, she renewed the Maryland registration on her car in April 1978. Jarvis also retained her Maryland driver's permit after she received a D.C. permit and displayed the Maryland license to a D.C. police officer when she was stopped last March.
"It is clear from the evidence," Belson wrote in his findings, "that...on Oct. 22, 1977, [Jarvis] and all other members of her immediate family moved from their residence in Chevy Chase, Md., to...1789 Sycamore St. N.W."
Belson ruled that Jarvis has "resided continuously" in the District since October 1977 and that she abandoned her former residence in Chevy Chase.
Before ruling on Neverson's petition, the appellate court ordered that fact-finding hearings be held to settle the question of Jarvis' residence. Belson's eight-page report will now be sent to the court of appeals for its final ruling.