Harpersville court hearing cancelled

Published 2:33 pm Monday, August 13, 2012


HARPERSVILLE – The Harpersville Town Council’s recent decision to abolish the town’s municipal court has set other actions into motion.

Shelby County Circuit Judge Hub Harrington produced an order July 11 equating the Harpersville Municipal Court with a “debtors prison.” Along with 12 “egregious abuses” listed against the court, Harrington ordered a preliminary injunction hearing in which the Harpersville mayor, Town Council and Judicial Corrections Services can provide evidence. Defendants from the lawsuit on behalf of Dana Burdette and three other former Harpersville inmates will also be able to provide evidence against the town of Harpersville.

Harrington issued a court order Aug. 10 canceling the preliminary injunction hearing, which had been set for Aug. 20. The order stated that the Town Council’s decision to abolish the municipal court meant the hearing was unnecessary.

A hearing for certification of the plaintiff’s allegations will be set at a later date, the order stated.

Additionally, a hearing on the motion for summary judgment filed by Judicial Corrections Services, a private probation company, will be set at a future date, according to the order. If granted, a hearing for summary judgment would not require a trial.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department seized documents and records from the Harpersville Municipal Court system Aug. 9 after Harrington signed a restraining order. The order stated records and documents, including but not limited to police records, traffic citations and correspondences with the sheriff’s department, could not be altered or destroyed.

According to the original lawsuit filed in 2010, Burdette and three other plaintiffs are seeking “monetary damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees,” as well as “declaratory and injunctive relief, including costs and attorney’s fees, both for themselves and all others similarly situated.”

The lawsuit stated that the plaintiffs anticipate entering “an injunction and other declaratory relief which prohibits the defendants from engaging in the violations of law” mentioned in the lawsuit.