Cox in supreme court again as junior judges’ county request upsets him
By Ian White
LONNIE COX and three of his fellow judges at the county justice center were at loggerheads on Monday after the junior-court jurists asked the county commissioners to set up a court-administrator system even though the county already has one.
Cox, left, the justice center’s administrative judge, lodged an emergency motion asking the state’s supreme court to prevent the county commissioners acting on the request after they listed it in the agenda for their meeting set for yesterday, Tuesday.
The judge and the commissioners are currently awaiting the supreme court’s decision on whether to hear their long-running legal argument over who has the right to oversee the county’s justice administration department.
Cox told The Post on Monday evening that the requested system would be “a parallel and duplicate of the justice administration department we already have” but one of the three county-court judges who submitted the request said he could not understand “what all the hubbub is about”.
Cox, who sits in the 56th district court at Galveston, placed his 40-page emergency motion on the Austin court’s docket after learning that the commissioners planned to consider “approval of staffing and structure of [a] court administration department including related budgetary action” during the meeting.
He maintained that such action would be a “direct and flagrant violation” of a temporary injunction he won from visiting judge Sharolyn Wood in June last year preventing the commissioners taking any action regarding the county’s justice administration department pending a contempt trial in which county judge Mark Henry is accused of failing to follow orders issued by Cox in September 2014 and May 2015.
The trial has yet to take place because Henry and his fellow county commissioners appealed Wood’s judgment and, on losing the appeal, petitioned the supreme court for a review of the appellate court’s ruling, claiming the injunction has been automatically stayed by their legal protestations.
The supreme court, which has yet to state whether it will grant the commissioners’ petition, issued an order at 1:06pm on Monday giving their attorneys until 5:00pm that afternoon to respond to the emergency motion.
Ironically, their lead attorney, Terry Adams, who has become notorious for constantly delaying the appeal and petition by claiming extra time for reasons as extraordinary as a past dental appointment and moving his desk, met the deadline first time with a 14-page document that included an affidavit by county legal boss Bob Boemer and a declaration signed by No 1 county-court judge John Grady, above left.
Also attached was a copy of a request to the commissioners to “approve the establishment of a ‘court administrator’ system for the three Galveston county courts at law” under Texas government cosde section 75.401a.
The request, dated December 16, was signed by Grady and his fellow county-court judges, Barbara Roberts of court No 2 and Jack Ewing of court No 3.
Grady told The Post that it would not be proper for him to comment on the merits of the issue as it had become the subject of legal action. But he did say: “We made the request under Texas government code 75.401a and I cannot understand what all the hubbub is about.”
Cox, who said the county-
court judges first told him about the request at the end of a meeting on Thursday, said: “We’re on the brink of a supreme-court decision about the commissioners’ petition and the commissioners risk being found in contempt if they do anything beforehand.
“What possible good are the county-court judges getting by requesting a new department now? The risk outweighs the reward.”