Niles case still awaits ruling
Jeremy Nash News Herald
More than a week after listening to both parties representing General Sessions Court and Circuit Court Clerk Lisa Niles and Loudon County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw, Chancellor Frank V. Williams III has yet to make a ruling.
The decision could give Niles’ department additional personnel and pay increases for all full- and part-time employees under her supervision.
“It’s my understanding that he’s just reviewing all of the exhibits that were entered into evidence as well as there was testimony that was given by deposition for proof that he needed to consider as well before giving his ruling,” Zachary Tenry, legal counsel for Niles, said. “As you know, there were lots of documents that were ultimately put into evidence. So, he’s just kind of combing through that as far as I understand.”
Tenry and Joe Ford, legal counsel for Bradshaw, submitted oral arguments via fax to Williams on Friday, Dec. 11.
Williams could not be reached for comment directly, but his assistant said Williams would like to make a decision before the end of the year.
Tenry said he did not anticipate a ruling until after Christmas.
“I spoke with Joe Ford on Wednesday afternoon and then I actually spoke with Kris Frye (attorney in Ford office) this morning and it is what it is,” Bradshaw said. “It’s a little bit of a waiting game here. Judge (Williams) has made them aware that it was going to be a few more days, I think he said 10 days, and so I think after Christmas we’ll hear something. And just me kind of guessing, probably pretty close to after Christmas is over.”
Niles declined comment until after the case has been settled.
Niles initially filed a lawsuit in September 2014 hoping to hire six new deputy clerks at a base salary of $31,000 for fiscal year 2014-15. In addition, she hoped for pay increases for all full- and part-time employees in her department.
In May, Loudon County Commission failed to reach a settlement agreement with Niles that would have created four new positions and a budget increase of $88,000 in the current fiscal year. In the agreement, Niles’ employees would have started with a base salary of about $24,000.
During the court hearing, Niles’ request changed from $31,000 to $25,500, and she asked for $57,000 to adjust the difference for the remaining employees working under her supervision.
“Of course, I’d like to see it come to an end,” Bradshaw said. “Of course, I’m not going — I don’t hate to even speculate. He may have seen something he knew to look further into, and may just — of course, I’d hate to be in his spot because I’m sure it’s not an easy decision on the ruling as well. So we’ll just bide our time, and I’m ready for it to come to an end, but at the same time I will certainly respect Chancellor Williams taking his time and doing what he feels (is) right.”
Ford could not be reached for comment by News-Herald press time.
“Any time a matter is taken under advisement it can take a while for the court to consider all the evidence and ultimately render an opinion,” Tenry said. “This is actually not atypical at all.”