Hattiesburg City Council calls meeting to address city court issues

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council, met in executive session for just over an hour this afternoon to discuss "possible litigation" stemming from an administration effort to revamp the municipal court system. We have been told the council excluded the Mayor Johnny DuPree from Thursday's special meeting.

The hurriedly called meeting comes on the heels of a letter mailed to the council and mayor by City Judge, Vanessa Jones, who says she is not resigning or voluntarily leaving her position.

Mayor DuPree intends to remove the current three judge judicial body in favor of a single judge by October 1. In fact, sources say Jones received her letter of termination Thursday afternoon.

Jones contends she is a victim of discriminatory and retaliatory conduct and has retained an attorney.  As we reported Wednesday, Jones may be hanging her judicial robe on various attorney general opinions regarding termination of city judges.

Also in play may be the city's own employee handbook which states

"When infractions or acts of misconduct are repeated or where a single infraction or misconduct is severe, an employee may be terminated from city employment. Terminations will be effective immediately with the employee being advised of his or her grievance/appeal rights."

Kim Chaze, who represents Jones, says there have been no accusations against her, and there is no basis for any accusations.

Besides the possible litigation, the mayor and council also have to agree on a proposal to revamp the court system.  So far, those discussions have not yielded any results.

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