Friday, May 6, 2022

Faye Punts

When is a veto a veto? Tis a question that will be answered in Hinds County Chancery Court after Circuit Judge Faye Peterson punted Lumumba v. Jackson City Council to Special Chancellor Jess Dickinson yesterday. 

The whole mess by Jess originates in the war between the City Council and Mayor over the garbage contract.  The dispute wound up in Hinds County Chancery Court and was assigned to Special Chancellor Jess Dickinson. The Chancellor ruled on the case but inserted a dastardly little footnote into the opinion.  JJ reported: 

The Chancellor ruled Thursday Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba must obtain City Council approval for all contracts whether they be of the emergency or non-emergency variety.  However, the jurist ruminated into the penumbras and threw this little hand grenade in the third footnote of his order: 

For clarity, there does exist a possible exception not presented in this case thus far, where the Council rejects an emergency contract presented by the Mayor, the Mayor exercises his veto of the rejection, and the Council overrides the veto. The Mayor then would have the option of engaging the judicial system, claiming the Council was arbitrary and capricious in overriding the veto.


The footnote provided everything but clarity. Ever the opportunist,  the Mayor pulled that pin and threw the hand grenade at the City Council during a special meeting Friday.  City Council President Virgi Lindsay called a special meeting of the City Council yesterday to approve an emergency one-year no-bid contract with Richard's Disposal for garbage collection services.   The City Council voted 4-3 twice to reject the contract.  

Seizing upon the little footnote, Mayor Lumumba vetoed the City Council's rejection of the contract in accordance with Judge Dickinson's footnote as the Council members Ashby Foote, Vernon Hartley, Kenneth Stokes, and a belligerent Aaron Banks watched in disbelief. ...

The Chancellor realized no one asked him whether contract rejections were subject to a Mayor's veto and decreed "Upon review of the pleadings, the court recognizes that this precise question was not presented to the court and the court should not have addressed it in dicta."  

Judge Dickinson vacated the March 31 order and issued a new one.  He said the Mayor can hire a vendor on an emergency basis but must still present the contract to the City Council for approval.  The City Council can not amend the emergency order but can only approve or reject the order.  Only the Mayor can negotiate a garbage collection contract.

Anxious to keep his precious brand new toy, Mayor Lumumba sued in for a declaratory judgment in Hinds County Circuit Court on April 4: 


The Mayor hereby requests that the Court enter a judgment and declare the following:

( 1) That a negative vote by the City Council constitutes and official action of the council;

(2) That the City Council's vote to reject a contract submitted by the Mayor is an ordinance that has been adopted by the council; and,

(3) That the Mayor has authority to veto both affirmative and negative actions of the City Council.

Mayor Lumumba defended the veto at a press conference that day, claiming the statute used in the footnote was still applicable so he would veto any votes that rejected paying Richard's Disposal for collecting garbage. 

Judge Peterson transferred the case to Judge Dickinson on April 5. However, Mayor Lumumba filed a motion for reconsideration on April 14.  

Judge Peterson said the entire controversy arose out of the Chancellor's opinion so the not-so-Iron Chancellor should be the one who adjudicates.   Thus the War of the Veto will be fought in Chancery Court.  Stay tuned.

Kingfish note: Dear Judge Dickinson: Please get a clerk.  You really do need it. 



Anonymous said...

SMDH. Feckless leadership in all phases of Hinds County.

Anonymous said...

Where will the garbage trucks be parked overnight?

Anonymous said...

Jackson and Hinds county have the exact leadership that they wanted and deserve.

Anonymous said...

Judge Dickerson must be desperate for money, no way in HELL would a sane person deal with the City of Jackson’s mess! It’s a waste of resource and time!

Anonymous said...

Geezus, the damn city council is going to end up having to approve and pay Richards as long as this is dragging out.

Anonymous said...

This case is like a boomerang for Dickerson.

Anonymous said...

Judicial cancel-culture? Judicial veto? These jurists couldn't make it in the real world. They are on the "welfare with honor" employment plan.

Anonymous said...

The ridiculous amount being spend on frivolous legal fees could fill a lot of pot holes. Meanwhile, that white wagon trains are heading north, south, east, and west.

Anonymous said...

Judge Dickenson mistakenly assumed the demeanor of a mediator in a casual dispute rather than a Judge in a contentious lawsuit. In this kind of litigation every word and all terminology will be scrutinized by the lawyers involved. If he continues with his loose handling of this matter, there will be more trouble for the Appeals Court to unravel. And more delay.

Anonymous said...

Did Judge Peterson transfer the case to Chancery or dismiss it altogether ? I know she originally entered an Order transferring it to Chancery Court. But in this new Order she also said she was dismissing the case in light of the Chancery Court's disposition of the original Chancery matter, which Judge Dickinson said was a Final Judgment.

Kingfish said...

She ordered a transfer. She was denying a motion for reconsideration.

Anonymous said...

Please Chucky, ask Tate for more money and throw a tantrum when the state doesn't trust you with anything.

This is a waste of time and resources all while murder rates soar, and basic utilties and roads decline.

Anonymous said...

KF. Have there been any votes yet to pay Richard’s. If so, what happened?

Anonymous said...

Is this a serious setback for the mayor, or even a setback at all? It seems to be a procedural delay, extending one aspect of the case, but I'm an average Joe who needs help understanding the effect of the Circuit Court judge's decision.

Anonymous said...

How pathetic is it when a court can't function properly without a "clerk."
I guess Radar O'Reilly really did keep the 4077 going.

Kingfish said...

Clarks serve a useful function.

No payments have appeared on the claims docket- yet.

Anonymous said...

There exists no judicial items to review.

There is no valid garbage contract.

There is no approved vendor for garbage collection and any entity doing so will not be paid.

The mayor needs to start a new.

Anonymous said...

As I understand this mess:

On April 5, Peterson transferred the "veto issue" case to the chancery court under the priority jurisdiction rule, since the "emergency" was filed there first, and the issue was first raised by that court.

On April 10, Dickinson entered his final judgment, in which he declined to allow amended pleadings to address the veto issue, saying he "will not do so without the consent of all parties - given that the Mayor did not place the precise issue before the court."

So, Dickinson either ignored the fact that the veto issue was in fact before the court, by virtue of the case that was transferred to it by the circuit court five days prior, or counsel for the parties failed to inform him of the transfer.

1234 said...

Jess done started one hell of a MESS!

Anonymous said...

All kinds of important functions being "held up" in this county over clerks....vital records.....etc. Why ? Pure lack of professionalism and laziness.

Anonymous said...

When a court orders a case transferred to another court, the clerk of the transferring court is supposed to transmit the case file and other materials to the clerk of the receiving court, who is then supposed to process it as a new case, assign it a case number, and apply appropriate judicial assignment procedures. This case would not have been automatically assigned to Judge Dickinson just because he was presiding over a related case, although either of the parties could have moved to consolidate the newly transferred case with the preexisting case due to their interconnected nature.

When Judge Dickinson ruled that the veto issue wasn't before him, that was correct, insofar as the transferred circuit court case hadn't been assigned to him or consolidated with the case he was hearing.

When the circuit court ordered the case transferred, the circuit court lost jurisdiction over it. The mayor's motion to reconsider was procedurally improper because the case was no longer before the circuit court. If the mayor wanted to argue that the case should have been heard in circuit court, he should have waited until the transferred case was docketed in the chancery court, and then moved to transfer it back to circuit court. Judge Peterson should not have substantively ruled on the motion to reconsider, except perhaps to deny it as moot or procedurally improper due to the circuit court's lack of jurisdiction.

The circuit court absolutely should not have purported to dismiss the suit due to the chancery court's ruling in the other case. That was a misstep for a couple of reasons. First, the circuit court had already transferred the case and declined to reconsider that ruling, so the circuit court clearly had no jurisdiction to dismiss the case it had already transferred to a different court. Second, there is no reason why the chancery court's final adjudication of the other suit mandated dismissal of the subsequent suit, which explicitly raises the issue that Judge Dickinson ruled was not before him in the other suit.

As things stand now, it doesn't look like the chancery clerk has ever processed the case transfer, so there's no chancery court case number under which to file things in the case as transferred. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that the circuit clerk's office may not have initiated the administrative transfer process on their end. Technically, the clerks' offices should still process the transfer because the circuit court didn't have jurisdiction to dismiss the case, but my guess is that no one in either court or clerk's office is going to take any additional steps on this case. Instead, either the mayor or the council is going to have to file a new suit. Again. At this point it'll be a race to see whether the council can get their suit filed in chancery court before the mayor refiles his suit in circuit court.

Anonymous said...

11:32, I think it means the veto issue is no longer before either court.

So, unless someone files a new case to get a ruling on whether the mayor can veto the counsel's decision to take no action, the issue remains undecided. Unless that happens, I expect Lumumba will continue to attempt to rule with total authority.

Maybe I'm misreading this, but at least for now the mayor has claimed the right to veto any action, or inaction, by the city counsel. By extension, he can also veto a vote to override his veto. It's a megalomaniac's dream-come-true - absolute power. Thanks, Jess.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, 1:08. I missed the consolidation step. -12:20

Anonymous said...

Thank you @1:08. Confusion beats anger every time. I am no longer angry.

Anonymous said...

1:08 : Lol, chancery employees not doing their jobs ? Whaaaaaaaat ? Lol, you have no idea just how bad it is.

Anonymous said...

12:21 PM
I would argue that Dickinson poured gas on a rancid dumpster and Lumumba threw the lit match.

Anonymous said...

The mayor needs to start a new.

Lumumba needs to follow the RFP process. Negotiate a contract with WM and submit to Council.

Anonymous said...

Chowkey is going to lose on the veto and lose on Richards. Stalling and playing this out doesn't make it any less so. He's squandered his agenda for the remainder of this term.

Kingfish said...

Pretty safe bet the Chancellors will recuse themselves and the case will go to Dickinson.

Macy said...

I have had a Chancellor transfer a Chancery Court case into a specific related case in Circuit Court. Opposing counsel has raised that as being improper, but that is what was ordered.

Anonymous said...

@9:02, I've seen that and other similar things too. Just another frightening reminder of how many of our judges don't know the law.

Anonymous said...

Judicial gross incompetence, Mississippi style. Next case.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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