Judge Needs More Help




Committee approves request

By: Pat Hunter

October 26, 2008


There are some new faces on the Budget Committee, Commissioners David Meers and Harold Duff. Both are employed by county government, one as a Highland Park Principal and the other as contract services for the Juvenile Dept.; other Budget Committee members Don Miller, Chris Park and Mayor Doyle Arp, Budget Chairman.   


General Session’s Judge Bill Russell went before the Budget Committee to make his funding request. He described his request as “extreme importance” in the efficient operations of his office.


According to Judge Russell, General Sessions Judicial Commissioner Cissy Chapman works on a full-time basis however she is entitled to comp time, call in time and seminars. He mentioned that Chapman’s office has been using an employee from the General Sessions Court’s office. She (Kristina Gibbs) was doing a good job and he wanted her to be compensated.    


Judge Russell mentioned that there were two ways to look at his request. Either as a request for new funding or using existing funding of $5000 in office equipment as a line item transfer, to help pay for the employee. Judge Russell didn’t think that he would use the entire amount.


Commissioner Don Miller mentioned that he remembered the Judge’s earlier request months back. The Judge mentioned that he remembered some but not all of the details of his earlier request. He recalled that the employee was working in his office but not getting paid.


Sometimes the Judge is out of town and she needs to be compensated. The Judge mentioned that he had advised the clerk (Lisa Niles). Niles is the clerk of General Sessions and Circuit Court.  


At that point, Mayor Arp tapped on the table and informed the E-911 Board that the Budget Committee could not hear. Sorry, Arp said. The talk and laughter was emanating from the vicinity of the E-911 Board E-911 Director Jennifer Estes and Sheriff Tim Guider. 


The Judge mentioned that his request was urgent and “very necessary.” The dockets and number of cases have grown considerably and they all have to be arraigned. Judge Russell mentioned that he did some to help and back up Cissy. We do need to compensate the clerk some, Judge Russell concluded his case.   


Without any hesitation, Commissioner David Meers  motioned and Commissioner Don Miller seconded the line item transfer of $5,000.


If this arrangement worked out, the Judge would come for additional funding at budget time in the spring. Do you have a way of tracking her hours? The Judge hadn’t been doing so but he agreed to do so. That satisfied Miller’s benchmarking request.


The General Session’s clerk would serve as Ms. Chapman’s assistant. The finance director mentioned this employee currently is working in General Session’s court, so a portion of her salary would be reflected in the Judge’s budget. The clerk would be paid $250 per month.