By Ian White
APPELLATE judge Terry Jennings has ripped up an appeals-court order telling Galveston County leaders Mark Henry and Lonnie Cox, right, to go to mediation in their battle for control of the county’s justice administration department.
Sitting alone in the state’s first district court of appeals, Jennings was responding to an objection by 56th-district-court judge Cox to the mediation order, which was handed down on July 20, four days before the anniversary of the action that led to the case.
That action was the summary firing by county judge Henry of JAD director Bonnie Quiroga, a decision that has had Henry and his fellow county commissioners locked in legal battle with Cox and the county justice center’s judges ever since.
The appellate court ordered mediation after the commissioners appealed a July 6 injunction preventing them from breaking up the department and keeping Quiroga out of her office.
The injunction had been ordered by visiting judge Sharolyn Wood pending a contempt-of-court trial against Henry set for January 11.
In appealing the injunction, the commissioners held that doing so automatically stayed their need to comply with its conditions and the mediation order represented an attempt by the appeals court to resolve the issue in a less adversarial manner..
As reported exclusively by The Post in its July 29 edition, Cox filed a motion objecting to the mediation order on July 27. In his motion, he claimed that the commissioners’ refusal to obey the injunction was a delaying tactic that represented more than just intransigence and he called on the Houston court to exercise its jurisdiction in the case without delay.
The commissioners did not object to mediation and submitted no response to Cox’s motion. As a result, the appeals court will consider their appeal against Wood’s injunction after both sides have submitted their briefs. As reported – again exclusively – in Sunday’s edition, Jennings last week gave
the commissioners until August 26 to submit their brief and Stevens told The Post on Monday that he will submit his response very swiftly thereafter.