Cox and Henry spat accepted by supreme court
By Ian White
A JUDGE’S battle with the county commissioners is to go before the state’s supreme court in early March.
The county’s senior jurist, Lonnie Cox, and county judge Mark Henry are locked in a legal argument about supervision of the local government’s justice administration department in a case whose repercussions have already reverberated throughout the state.
After losing the argument in district and appeal courts in 2015, the commissioners asked the supreme court last February to review the case and, on Friday, its Austin-based justices agreed to hear oral argument by both sides on March 9.
Both Cox, left, who presides in the 56th district court at the county’s justice center in Galveston, and Henry, below, said on Friday that they were looking forward to their clash in Austin.
Henry, who has courted support from his fellow commissioners as well as cities and local-government groups throughout Texas, issued a statement saying: “The fact that our petition will be heard by the highest court in Texas is very significant.
“I am very eager to have our side make the case that what we did was not only lawful but necessary to look out for Galveston taxpayers and to do the job we were elected to do.”
The statement referred to the case as “very significant” and said it “will have ramifications in every county in Texas regarding separation of powers as to whether a county judge and commissioners court can properly execute their duties, such as budgets, positions and salaries”.
Cox, who has similarly sought the backing of his colleagues on the Galveston benches, was equally bullish, believing that the issue is whether a local judiciary can properly execute its own duties if its chief administrative officer’s job and department are subject to the whim of the executive
On Friday, he called The Post from Washington, where he was attending the presidential inauguration to say: “It was us, not them, who requested an oral hearing, so I am very excited that we now have a date.
“I expect the supreme court to put this thing completely to rest because Mark Henry keeps interfering with the judiciary. It’s pitiful.”