Lawyers for Charleston and the town of James Island squared off in a downtown courtroom today as the city seeks to once again overturn the incorporation of a town on James Island.

Charleston's lead attorney, Tim Domin, told Circuit Court Judge J. Cordell Maddox, Jr. that the state legislation that allowed the creation of a town on parts of James Island in 2006 was unconstitutional "special legislation" tailored to that purpose.

Domin also set the stage for what is expected to be several days of testimony on the details of James Island's incorporation papers, a document the size of a large phone book that Domin said was rife with errors.

"The paperwork was simply a disaster," said Domin, who told Maddox that it's unclear even today what specific properties are part of the town.

The town's attorney, Trent Kernodle, said the case is fundamentally about the right to vote.

"Cities are formed because people want them," he told Maddox. "This case is about small town versus big city."

Kernodle said there may have been some mistakes in the town's incorporation paperwork, which he blamed on other branches of government providing bad data, but he said the documents would pass any legal test.

"We're going to ask you to let us have our town," he said to Maddox. "Third time's a charm."

Two previous incorporations of the town were thrown out by the courts after challenges by Charleston. Part of James Island is within the city limits, and most of the remainder of the island comprises the new town.

Whichever side loses at the Circuit Court level is expected to appeal.