On Monday, August 17, 2020, a hearing was held in the Jacque D. Derr vs. Parish of Winn case. The lawsuit filed by 8th JDC Judge Jacque D Derr (Derr) on July 13, 2020, against Winn Parish Police Jury (Jury) outlines that the Jury has an obligation and responsibility to budget, fund, and pay all reasonable/necessary expenses for the basic services, housing, supplies, and budget of the court, including the salary of all employees and personnel, providing suitable offices for the judge, judicial employees and personnel including equipment for the preservation of court records and operating expenses and maintenance of the offices of the court and courtroom. The original figure requested by Derr was $18,000 + per month.
The Jury filed exceptions to the lawsuit, which are oppositions to the original suit, said Chris Nevils, who is the Jury’s legal counsel. The hearing was held so that the Plaintiff may respond to the defendant’s exceptions and possibly reach an agreement to prevent the case from going to trial. No agreement was reached, and another hearing is set for September 8, 2020.
The court minutes reflect that the Plaintiff shall prepare an amended budget statement that shall include a calculation of a specific dollar amount needed by the court to balance the budget each month retrospectively and prospectively for the 2020 calendar year and submit it to the Defendant by September 1, 2020. The Winn Parish Police Jury shall consider the Plaintiff’s proposed amended budget and file a response into the record of the proceeding by September 7, 2020. On September 8, 2020, if the exceptions are overruled court will proceed immediately to trial.
The hearing was presided over by Judge John Crigler, a retired judge from the 6th Judicial Court.
In court documents obtained by the WPJ exceptions to the original law suit the Jury sites (exceptions are summarized):
- The original petition filed by Derr incorrectly names the Defendant as “Parish of Winn” not the Winn Parish Police Jury.
- The relief being sought by Derr will result in a deficit in the operating funds of the Jury which is a clear violation of Cove of Civil Procedure Article 3862.
- Mandamus is inappropriate and is the improper procedure.
- The original petition filed by Derr asks for all “necessary orders an decrees” is unduly vague and improperly cumulates a request for other relief beyond that normally affordable in a mandamus proceeding.
- There is no statutory allowance of attorney’s fees in this proceeding.
The Memorandum in Support filed by the Winn Parish Police Jury states “The Winn Parish Police Jury does not dispute the fact that they are required to furnish the necessary, appropriate and essential expenses of the Judge’s office for Winn Parish.” “Consequently, there is an issue before the Court as to what expenses are “reasonable.”
“The Police Jury is doing its very best to safeguard the taxpayer’s money. We feel the Jury has gone above and beyond to work with the Judges’ office while at the same time operating the entire parish in a situation of severely diminished resources,” said Nevils.
Winn Parish Police Jury President, Josh McAllister stated “I believe Judge Crigler’s orders are in line with what the Jury has been trying to accomplish all along, which is trying to come up with a reasonable compromise.”
All documents filed by the Jury are be reviewed here.