The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 2, 2013

Jasper County Commission counsel calls for dismissal of former sheriff’s lawsuit

By Susan Redden
news@joplinglobe.com

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The attorney for the Jasper County Commission on Wednesday said a lawsuit filed against the commission by former Sheriff Archie Dunn should be dismissed since Dunn is no longer sheriff.

Norman Rouse, attorney for the commission, said he has filed a motion in Jasper County Circuit Court seeking dismissal of the lawsuit. The lawsuit is based on conflicts relating to the county’s law enforcement sales tax grant board, and other issues primarily connected to the sheriff’s budget and the expenditure of law enforcement sales tax funds.

Included in the motion was a statement from Sheriff Randee Kaiser, who took office Tuesday, saying he supports the dismissal and does not want to be a party to a lawsuit against the commission.

Other members of the former tax fund grant board also were plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the county. Rouse said Kaiser sent letters to those members, telling them their services on the board were no longer needed.

Dunn filed the lawsuit after the commissioners, citing complaints they said they were hearing from officials of local police departments, disbanded the board and replaced it with their own appointments. Dunn was chairman of the previous board, and a majority of the members were Sheriff’s Department representatives. Dunn had argued that was the board makeup that was presented to voters when they approved the law enforcement sales tax in 2005.

“We maintain that previous grant board served at the pleasure of the sheriff, and the new sheriff supports dismissing the lawsuit,” Rouse said.

Joplin attorney Bill Fleischaker, who represents Dunn, on Wednesday said the filing “was not unexpected,” but he said he did not have a further response.

“The motion will be argued in court. I’ll have a statement then,” he said.

Rouse said the filing has no impact on a separate lawsuit filed by Henry County against Jasper County and Dunn, seeking payment for bills that have remained unpaid after Jasper County inmates were sent for housing in the Henry County Jail.

Citing problems with jail overcrowding, Dunn sent some county inmates to a number of jails. But the commissioners refused to approve the bills, saying the costs were not the subject of a contract or included in the sheriff’s budget.

The only lawsuit was filed by Henry County, where costs topped $80,000.

Fleischaker said the Henry County suit was filed against Dunn in his official capacity, and that he has filed a motion asking that Kaiser be substituted as the defendant.

A motions hearing in that case is set for Jan. 11.



Other counts

ARCHIE DUNN’S LAWSUIT against the County Commission was filed in July 2011. Other provisions of the lawsuit challenge the commission’s decisions not to pay some bills Dunn submitted, ask the court to rule that he was authorized to place county inmates in other jails, and cite other conflicts concerning the sheriff’s budget and law enforcement sales tax funds.