A public hearing into the allegations of a petition under section 351.16 must be held within 60 days after issuance of the order of the chief justice assigning the case to a special master. The special master may issue subpoenas to compel the testimony of witnesses and the production of documents. The petition may be amended of right by the petitioners at any time prior to 40 days before the scheduled hearing. The special master may permit later amendment of the petition only for good cause.
The special master shall take evidence at a public hearing under this section and determine:
(1) whether the petitioners have shown by clear and convincing evidence that the factual allegations of malfeasance or nonfeasance are true; and
(2) if so, whether the facts found to be true constitute malfeasance or nonfeasance.
The special master shall dismiss the petition at any time if it appears that this standard has not been met.
The petitioners and the elected county official shall be represented by legal counsel at their own expense, and shall pay their costs associated with the hearing except that the county may assume the legal costs incurred by the elected county official. The county shall pay all other costs of the hearing.
The special master shall issue a decision within 60 days after the end of a public hearing under this section.
If a petition under this section is dismissed by the special master, either before or after a public hearing, the petitioner may appeal the decision to the Supreme Court within 30 days. The Supreme Court shall grant an expedited appeal.