As expected, the lawsuit filed by Independence County was an early topic during the Independence County Quorum Court, which met last night.
The suit is in regards to the county's District Court which the county wishes to have a judgement stating that "the district court is not solely operated by Independence County."
Also the county is asking for a "declaratory judgement that the city of Batesville is obligated to fund some salary and operational costs associated with the district court."
Independence County Attorney Daniel Haney addressed the court about the lawsuit
"There is a Latin saying, Res ipsa loquitur which means 'the thing speaks for itself,'" Haney said. "There is more height to this law suit than there needs to be. All a declaratory judgement states is that it is binding and much quicker, and we do need to figure out what the obligation of district court is, and in order to figure out one we have to figure out the other. it simply asks a judge to take a look at a statute that is already on the books."
Griffin also had a response to the lawsuit as well.
"The suit asking for declaratory judgement in the circuit court, is an action to settle what the law says our district court is, county only or a state pilot district court," Griffin said in written statement distributed in open court. "This one simple issue shows the futility of having a meeting to determine what the law says about district court, between the 11 members of the Quorum Court, eight members of the Batesville City Council, Mayor and County Judge along with the two attorneys. How could 23 people decide what the law says when our two attorneys couldn't come to an agreement."
Griffin continued by stating,
"Each of our attorneys have law degrees and none of the 21 potential participants do. A friendly suit is the simplest and best way to get this settled, by a circuit judge, and not have potentially harsh words spoken between two bodies. The same pathway to settle long standing issues will allow our two governing bodies to move forward in our new partnership with the city of Southside. At the same time, we will have no reason to speak badly of one another in any of the past issues being resolved. As an elected official, I wish to follow the law and I believe our collective bodies feel the same."
Justice of the Peace Johnathan Abbott stated that he wished the two bodies could settle out of court.
Griffin stated, "I've tried for seven years and nothing has happend. Let's let the court decide."
Independence County Sheriff Shawn Stephens approached the court about applying for grants, but will need $30,000 per year for three years, and the deadline to apply is March.
Stephens wants to use the grant in order to hire more officers, and this will be done through the COPS Hiring Program.
This is a competitive solicitation, open to all state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies with primary law enforcement authority. Approximately $400 million in funding is available, and will be a way for the county to hire more individuals in the future.
Justice of the Peace Brent Henderson stated that the court will have time before the next meeting to discuss if it will be possible to help with the additional funding that they department will need yearly.
More details from the Quorum Court meeting will be in the Wednesday's edition of The Batesville Guard.