On Thursday, September 24, 2020, District Judge Ad Hoc John D. Crigler ordered and decreed that the Winn Parish Police Jury would pay Jacque Derr’s office a total of $30,201.57 over three months. The amount ordered was what attorney’s for both sides had worked for hours to agree upon in chambers before the hearing where Judge Crigler issued the Judgement.
“I’m very satisfied with the Judgement; I believe that it’s a fair amount and what we offered to pay the Judge’s office from the very beginning of this matter before we ever went to court. The Jury was always willing to help the Judge’s office, just like we did last year when we gave him $25,000 to help him with his budget deficit. We couldn’t afford to pay him the $18,000 + per month that he initially requested,” said Josh McAllister, President of the Winn Parish Police Jury.
The hearing was originally set for September 8th, but was postponed due to difficulties and delays caused by hurricane Laura.
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.”
It appears that the expenses that could be questioned as reasonable are the Judge’s payroll expenses.
Included in the Answers to First Set of Interrogatories and Responses to Request for Production of Documents filed by the Judge’s office on, August 2020, the Judge has four employees:
- Vicki L. Rockett – Secretary/Judicial Administrator – $7,000 plus health insurance and retirement benefits (salary and retirement bring total compensation to $91,980 per year, adding undetermined paid insurance would bring total compensation to an estimate of over $100,000 per year)
- Kelly W. Willis – Deputy Judicial Administrator/Deputy Official Court Reporter/Misdemeanor Probation Officer – $2500 plus health insurance and retirement benefits
- Susan Byrd – Deputy Judicial Administrator/Receptionist – $2,083.33 plus health insurance and retirement benefits
- Martin Sanders, III – Child Support Hearing Officer – $1,000
$5013.72 of Rockett’s salary is paid from fines collected by the Sheriff’s office, which means that the court must generate an additional $2000 to cover her salary alone. A salary of $84,000 + paid insurance + paid retirement places Rockett in the top income bracket for Winn Parish, where the median combined household income is $35,398 and in the state of Louisiana where the median combined household income is $47,905.00.
Included in court documents filed by the Judge’s office Chris Nevils attorney for the Jury repeatedly sent text and emails requesting to work with the judge to find an amount that would work for all parties. “We tried diligently to try to reach an agreement with the Judge. It was never about that the Jury wasn’t willing to help the Judge it was a matter of reaching a reasonable amount that all parties could agree upon,” stated Nevils.
You can read previous WPJ coverage of the case here:
Winn Parish District Judge Request Additional Funds to Keep Court Operating and 8th JDC Judge Files Lawsuit Against Winn Parish Police Jury
Court documents can be reviewed here.