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Bryant describes Griffin’s district court dispute as ‘reckless’

During Tuesday night’s regular Batesville City Council meeting, Councilmember Tommy Bryant called Independence County Judge Robert Griffin’s proposal regarding the funding of the district court “reckless.” (Click here for more information on the conflict between the quorum court and district court.)

Griffin is planning to put forth a proposed ordinance at the May 17 Independence County Quorum Court meeting that would drastically cut the budget of the county’s district court. (Read the proposed ordinance below.)

In a statement released Monday, Griffin said District Judge Chaney Taylor had been diverting substantial revenues to the City of Batesville that have for years been paid to the county. The county judge noted he has requested, by letter, for Taylor to return those funds. As such, Griffin said it would then be necessary to cut the district court budget by $165,000 — essentially stopping the operation of the district court in Independence County.

At the Batesville City Council meeting Tuesday, Bryant told other council members Griffin’s most recent actions deserve another attempt at starting a conversation with county leaders.

“The latest thing that has happened, and it’s really sad, is that the county judge has proposed an ordinance for the next quorum court meeting that essentially defunds the district court and renders it unable to operate,” Bryant said at the Tuesday meeting. “The proposed ordinance that I read says that the county will pay half of the district court salary and half of the clerk’s salary — and nothing else. In the Supreme Court case in 1996, the Supreme Court made the statement that the administration of justice within the county is one of the primary reasons for its [the district court’s] existence. Its primary function is to provide for the administration of justice, and this proposal by Judge Griffin to essentially defund the court is reckless.” 

“Our community deserves to have a district court — an administration of justice. People that commit crimes deserve a quick resolution to their case, and if the court ceases to function and ceases to exist, none of the lawyers knows what’s going to happen,” said Bryant.

Bryant said on numerous occasions the city has asked the county to sit down together and resolve the problems between the two governing bodies — but that the county has refused to do so.

At the Tuesday night city council meeting, Bryant made another motion to invite the county to sit down together and discuss the problems between them.

The motion received a unanimous “Yes” from the council.

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