By Michael Howell
The Ravalli County Commissioners agreed last week to pay $16,327.50 in attorney fees to Justices of the Peace Jim Bailey and Robin Clute who agreed, in return, to drop their lawsuit against the County over the Commissioners’ decision last year to cut two justice court clerk positions.
The Justices protested the cuts and then appealed the decision to District Court where Judge Jeffrey Langton ruled, under a Supreme Court mandated review process, that the positions were justified and needed to be funded. Langton issued a Preliminary Injunction prohibiting the cuts until a final ruling could be made. No ruling has yet been made, however.
According to unofficial minutes of the meeting, Deputy County Attorney Howard Recht noted that although there are a number of substantive and procedural questions he hoped the court would rule on, since the fiscal year is ending and a new budget is being formed and the court has not made any ruling, it made sense to end the litigation.
Former County Attorney George Corn, now working for Datsopoulos, MacDonald and Lind, P.C., represented the Justices in their case against the County. He agreed to drop the suit on the condition that the legal expenses of the Justice Courts were paid. Corn stated he hopes the Justices of the Peace Robin Clute and Jim Bailey do not have to through this litigation again with the upcoming budget year.