Before This Morning's Constables Hearing in Federal Court, Let's Review the Filings
Today's The Big Day (well, all right, a big day) for Dallas County Constables Ben Adamcik, Beth Villareal and Roy Williams and many of the deputy constables who say Dallas County is eliminating their jobs because some of them blew the whistle on Dallas County Precinct 1 Constable Derick Evans and former Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes. 'Round 9 this morning, the constables and county reps are scheduled to square off in Judge Royal Furgeson's court room at the Earle Cabell. A sort of High Holidays service for observers of county politics.
County Judge Clay Jenkins and the commissioners court, of course, insist their efforts to transfer some of the deputies' duties to the Sheriff's Department is just business, a cost-cutting measure. But attorney John Barr, repping the constables and deputies, insists otherwise -- that Jenkins is retaliating against those deputies who came forward in 2008 and '09 to allege that Cortes and Evans were up to some shady doings involving tow companies, campaign contributions and John Wiley Price's KwaanzaFest, among other things. The deputies also believe this has something to do with fouling up the feds' look-see into Price's doings.
Barr says this case is also related to a more recent incident: the firings of those deputies the county said didn't do their jobs, including serving papers to those about to be evicted. And, you'll recall, Adamcik recently established that legal fund on behalf of the deputies.
On the other side is today's program -- all the important docs related to this morning's hearing, beginning with the initial filing and including the judge's August 30 ruling and the county's response filed yesterday that says the decision to eliminate 32 deputy constable and clerk positions, for starters, was purely a budgetary move. Besides, says the filing, "Plaintiffs cannot establish any casual link between any allegedly protected speech" and the agenda item that called for eliminating their positions.
Update at noon by Leslie Minora: So much for the fireworks we were promised: This morning's hearing concerning the Dallas County constables' federal case against the county commissioners took all of five minutes. Judge Royal Furgeson suspended the legal proceedings, at least till the Dallas County Commissioners Court decides whether it's going to fire those deputies after all, per the August agenda item that led to the rush to the courthouse one month ago.
"I will make this case to stay all further procedures," he said, complimenting the cases brought forth by both sides in front of a nearly full courtroom. The constables' legal team requested that the court prevent a commissioners' court vote on a proposal that would eliminate the deputies' positions and transfer their duties to the Sheriff's Department. The county's attorneys, of course, requested that Furgeson dismiss the case.
Ferguson's decision allows the commissioners to vote on the the cutbacks before a case can move forward. Then, if the constables are still unhappy with the vote, they can bring the matter back to court, essentially putting the horse back in front of the cart.
Which isn't to say the judge doesn't take seriously the constables' allegations that the commissioners are ditching the deputies to retaliate for their having blown the whistle on Dallas County Precinct 1 Constable Derick Evans and former Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes. It's just: The law doesn't let him step in the way of their vote, he said. Constables Initial ComplaintJudge Royal Furgeson's Order CountysResponseToConstables Constables Preliminary Injunction Briefing County'sMotionToDismiss
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.