Dalton ousts judge, administrator

Dalton ousts judge, administrator

September 21st, 2010 by Adam Crisp in News

DALTON, Ga. - City aldermen cleaned house at the city's municipal court on Monday, but didn't give much cause for why the court's top officials were shown the door.

Earlier in the day Monday, city officials apparently asked city court administrator David Hamil to resign and later that evening the council voted to fire City Court Judge Jerry Moncus after he wouldn't leave voluntarily.

City leaders gave little clue as to what prompted the house-cleaning.

"We would like to see the court heading in a different direction, and we felt like it needed new leadership," said Mayor David Pennington, who did not detail specific problems with the ousted leaders.

But late last week, Moncus said he sent written requests to Pennington, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Whitfield Sheriff Scott Chitwood asking for an outside investigation of the city's dealings with bail bondsmen.

In the letters, Moncus mentions an investigation by the city council into his own dealings with collecting unpaid obligations to the city that bonding companies have refused to honor.

Moncus details multiple problems with the local bonding companies that he said have been allowed to go on unchecked.

"There are bonding companies here that are operating illegally ... have refused to comply and have not complied with the law," Moncus said after his dismissal Monday.

"Everyone has refused to address this issue except for me," Moncus said. "It's a political agenda."

He said Pennington, City Attorney Jim Bisson and City Administrator Ty Ross had all contacted him earlier Monday asking for a resignation, but he refused. His firing Monday was unanimous.

One alderman said the council did not feel like Moncus communicated with them effectively, but he said talks to merge the city court with the magistrate court had nothing to do with the departures.

"We felt like the there were some differences in the way he was proceeding than what the council wanted to see out of the court," said Alderman Richard Lowrey. "We didn't feel like he properly communicated with us."

The council appointed an interim judge, David Wilbanks, who had been a city court judge previously, Lowrey said.

The city court judge is a part-time, appointed position. Moncus has held the job since 2006. He continued to operate his Dalton legal practice.

From here, the council will conduct a full review of the court and report back how to move forward, Pennington said.

"Everything is on the table," Pennington said. "I've appointed [Alderman Gary] Crews and Ty Ross to look at all their activities with the new interim judge and report back."

Online: Read Jerry Moncus' letters to the mayor and law enforcement regarding his ouster.

Contact Adam Crisp at acrisp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6323. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/adam_crisp


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