The Ashley County Quorum Court postponed hiring a new attorney after a justice of the peace suggested that it was illegal for the Quorum to hire employees.
County Judge Jim Hudson presented the court with an ordinance, 2019-1, to hire attorney David Harrod as the Quorum Court’s legal counsel.
The ordinance was met with an objection, however, from a new justice.
“We can’t hire employees, that is not our job,” Justice Ron Mills said.
Mills said that the court could allocate the funds, but that they could not directly hire anyone.
Other members of the Quorum interjected that they had always hired an attorney through an ordinance.
“I was under the impression that the attorney is hired to advise the Quorum Court, not just as an employee of Judge Hudson,” Justice Jeff Langley said.
Mills told the court that he had received advice from a law firm in Little Rock that said the Quorum Court could not hire employees.
Other members of the court maintained that the court had contracted with an attorney through ordinance for years, and they would need more information before changing the process.
“We’ve always done it this way and I believe this needs to be investigated further,” Justice Rhonda Pippen said.
The justices discussed whether or not the attorney is an employee of the county, an appointed official or simply someone the court would contract with for legal advice.
Hudson said that the previous attorney, Richard Byrd, was hired through an ordinance approved by the court. Byrd resigned near the end of 2018 and Harrod was the only attorney to apply as his replacement.
The Quorum Court agreed to strike the ordinance and move the topic to the next regularly scheduled meeting.