Quorum Court to appoint Chief Justice

Quorum Court to appoint Chief Justice

Presiding officer will stand in for County Judge in his absence

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When Crittenden County Quorum Court starts in January, the body will choose an appointed Presiding Officer who will run the meetings in the event the County Judge is absent.

Justice Hubert Bass, who sponsored the resolution, said having a member of the court stand in for the judge will help ensure continuity and that the court is able to function and be informed in case of the judge’s absence.

“I thought it would be a good idea to have something in place,” Bass said. “I think this will give us some continuity and some leadership for any justice who wants to take on that responsibility.”

Bass pointed out that Judge Melton Holt was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in 2011 and was unable to preside over Quorum Court meetings. In his absence, the Quorum Court used a different chairman who rotated each month to run meetings which wasn’t very effective.

“When Judge Holt was here we went through a time trying to figure out how we were going to do it,” Bass said. “Even when Judge Woody Wheeless isn’t here, it doesn’t provide continuity.

If we elected an interim chairperson we’ll know who is going to preside when we get to the meeting. We won’t have to spend time waiting over who is going to do what.”

The person selected will be referred to as the Chief Justice and will be elected quarterly by a simple majority voice vote of the total number of justices of the Quorum Court.

The Chief Justice will preside over meetings and be an ex officio member of all regular Quorum Court meetings in the absence of the judge, and shall serve as the court’s liaison to all county boards and Quorum Court meetings and have the ability to call special meetings of the court.

Bass said Shelby County Commission in Memphis has a similar policy in place.

“It just makes good sense,” Bass said. “If you look at Memphis, their county commission has a chairperson so you’re not caught off guard. So if something happens to the judge, we would already have a chairperson lined up and ready to go who has been keeping up with everything and knows what’s going on.”

Justice Lorenzo Parker asked how the person will be picked.

“Can they nominate themselves?” Parker asked. “That’s up to the body,” Bass said. “They can step forward. I won’t be here. It will be a vote any way.”

“Me either,” Parker added. Justice Stacy Allen said he likes the idea of having a specific back up person in place who is informed and can step in to run county business.

“Sounds good,” Allen said.

Justices James Fraley, Lisa O’Neal, and Claude “Shorty” Steele voted against the measure.

By Mark Randall

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