Plea to jurisdiction denied in suit between county and Constables Association

David Yates Apr. 9, 2012, 8:43am

A local judge recently denied the Jefferson County Deputy Constables Association's plea to the jurisdiction in litigation brought by Jefferson County.

The county filed the suit against the JCDCA on Nov. 23 in Jefferson County District Court, seeking a judicial review of an arbitrator's "far-reaching" ruling.

Court records show that the JCDCA filed an amended answer on Jan. 27, questioning whether the county has demonstrated that the court has the jurisdiction to hear the case.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 6oth District Court, denied the JCDCA's plea to the jurisdiction on March 9, court papers say.

The dispute arose after the county abolished several deputy constable positions. The JCDCA contended the action violated the collective bargaining agreement and the matter went into arbitration Sept. 13, according to the petition.

On Nov. 9 an arbitrator issued an opinion with the following findings:

  • The parties shall meet and negotiate to agree on the seniority ranking of the deputy constables to determine which constables should be reinstated and in what order;

  • The county shall reinstate those deputy constables laid off and pay the back wages in order of their seniority; and

  • The arbitrator shall retain jurisdiction for 30 days to resolve any dispute over the payment of back wages.

    The county contends in its suit that the arbitrator lacked the jurisdiction "to render an award so far-reaching and intrusive on the sovereign governmental responsibilities of the Jefferson County Commissioners Court."

    The county further argues that the evidence found in the record does not support the award and is asking the court to vacate the decision.

    Assistant District Attorneys Steven Wiggins and Phillip Babin represent the county.

    Attorney Mitch Adams of the Combined Law Enforcement Agencies of Texas represents the constables assocation.

    Case No. B191-390

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