Commission appeals dismissed in Sheriff’s employees suit
By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer
Due to an improperly filed trial court order concerning the Shelby County Commission’s obligation to pay Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies merit raises, the Alabama Supreme Court filed an order Feb. 21 stating all appeals filed against the ruling have been dismissed.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Joseph L.B. Boohaker told the commission Oct. 20, 2011 to pay the merit raises retroactively, dating to the beginning of fiscal year 2011. The merit raises would cost the commission about $228,000, according to Birmingham attorney Ray Fitzpatrick Jr., who represents the sheriff’s employees.
Sheriff’s employees Russell Bedsole, Clay Hammac, Anne P. Watford and Leslie Hood originally filed the lawsuit May 9, 2011 in Shelby County Circuit Court on behalf of 209 sheriff’s employees.
The suit sought “back pay and damages due to the failure of Shelby County and the County Commission to provide full salaries to the employees” of the sheriff’s office “under the requirements of the statute regulating the employment of law enforcement employees in Shelby County.”
Boohaker mailed his order to the Shelby County Clerk’s Office, but it was not entered into the State Judicial Information System until a later date, Fitzpatrick said.
The commission later filed two notices of appeal in late November and mid-December 2011.
The Alabama Supreme Court heard oral arguments of the case in October 2012. Because the trial court order was improperly filed, however, the Supreme Court ruled in its February 2013 order that the commission’s appeals were dismissed. The case will return to trial court, Fitzpatrick said.
“The accurate report is the Supreme Court decided to send the entire matter back to the trial court saying they didn’t have jurisdiction. There’s no ruling supporting the commission’s argument that they don’t have to pay the pay raises,” Fitzpatrick said.
A message left with Montgomery attorney Ken Webb, who is representing the County Commission, was not returned as of Feb. 25.