Judge not ‘leaning’ in school case

Published 11:18 pm Saturday, April 28, 2018

I would like to take exception to the headline in The Natchez Democrat paper for Thursday, April 26, that stated that the Honorable E. Vincent Davis, Adams County Chancellor, “leans in favor of school bonds.”

This misguided interpretation, though I feel sure was unintentional, gave an erroneous portrayal of what actually transpired in chancery court on April 25.  In addition, it impugns the fairness of the judge and of the court proceedings regarding the $9 million in tax notes and the $25 million in tax certificates, which the unelected school board is trying to impose upon the taxpayers of Adams County.

I was personally present for the entirety of the six-and-a-half-hour court proceedings on Wednesday, and I can attest that Davis made no indication whatsoever which way he may rule.  In fact, he was extremely diligent and careful not to show prejudice toward either side throughout the hearings.

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The newspaper’s article likewise misstates the court’s ruling on the objectors’ motion to dismiss the district’s validation case.  Evidently, the reporter was not aware of court procedures, but at the end of both parties presenting all evidence in a case, the defending party moves that the court dismiss the action for a directed verdict. Davis neither granted nor denied the motion; rather he took the legal issues under advisement, and he directed each side to submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law for his consideration by May 18, 2018.

Objection to the bond validation case was led by Kevin Wilson and filed by more than 450 Natchez — Adams voters. A central issue of fact presented at the trial was whether the lawyer(s) for the school district had the authority to unilaterally change a key date in the school board’s resolution without first obtaining proper and legal approval.

If so, the school board would be in direct violation of a relevant Mississippi statute.  Another paramount issue is the constitutionality of a statute that places an onerous burden upon the taxpayers to challenge the oppressive edicts of an unelected school board, thus depriving voters and taxpayers of Adams County of their property without due process of law and in violation of the equal protection of the laws of the Nation.

Those who oppose the school board’s efforts are confident that Judge Davis will fairly address the issues of fact and law presented in court.  Moreover, it is clear from the positions of both sides that this matter will ultimately be addressed by the Mississippi Supreme Court and/or the Court of Appeals.

I hope that in the future The Natchez Democrat will be more careful to reflect an accurate interpretation of such important matters, particularly in its front-page headlines.  Natchez residents, as well as Judge Davis, deserve that.

Marcia McCullough

vice-president Natchez-Adams County
Taxpayers Association