Judge dismisses Jones’ suit

Published 3:00 am Thursday, February 25, 2016

A circuit judge has dismissed the fire marshal’s suit against the City of Troy over the hiring of a new fire chief.

Judge Shannon Clark offered no explanation in her one-page opinion, saying only “having considered the pleadings of the parties and the arguments presented, the Court finds the Motion to Dismiss is due to be granted.”

Rainer Cotter III, who represented the City of Troy and the four council members named in the suit, said his clients were pleased with the decision.

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“We appreciate the judge taking the time to consider our strong legal arguments and are glad that she agreed with us,” he said.

Eric Hutchins, the attorney for plaintiff Willie Jones could not be reached for comment on Wednesday and Jones referred comments to the attorney.

One of four internal candidates for the fire chief position, Jones filed suit on Jan. 21 against the city, the mayor and four council members, citing violations of the Open Meetings Act and an illegal committee meeting prior to the selection process. He sought to have the appointment nullified.

Defense attorneys filed a motion for dismissal and Clark held a hearing on the motion Feb. 12. During that hearing, Cotter said Jones’ suit should be dismissed because the complaint wasn’t verified, among other issues.

Councilwoman Dejerilyn King Henderson is the only elected city official not named in Jones’ suit and has openly said she supports his efforts. “I don’t really have any comment right now,” she said. “We have another suit filed right after this one.”

A second group of plaintiffs filed suit on Feb. 18, alleging ongoing violations of the Open Meetings Act.

The complaint was filed by attorney Eric Hutchins on behalf of Jason B. Thomas, Juretha Thomas and Jake Wingard and the defendants named include the mayor, the City of Troy, and council members Charlie “Sarge” Dunn, Greg Meeks, Marcus Paramore and Johnny Witherington.

No hearing date has been set for the second suit.