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Problems in Jefferson County persist

Problems in Jefferson County continue— and this time in the quorum court. Justices of the peace say they can't do their jobs due to a roadblock from the county judge

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Last week we reported about ongoing issues between Jefferson County Sheriff Lafayette Woods and County Judge Gerald Robinson.

Now, we have learned of more problems, and this time, with another group of elected officials— the Quorum Court.

The Quorum Court is designed to handle the county government.

Justices of the Peace, or JPs,  in Jefferson County, however, said they can't get their jobs done and cited their roadblock as the county judge.

Lloyd Franklin is a JP and said the Quorum Court is responsible for deciding what goes on the agenda, not the county judge. 

The county judge can only appoint people to their committees.

Franklin alleged that Robinson is "controlling the agenda."

"It is just an abuse of power to keep other elected officials from placing their agenda items on the agenda," Franklin added.

Quorum Court members met on January 9 to discuss a procedure ordinance.

The ordinance governs laws that control how meetings will go for the next two years, as well as how things are placed on the agenda.

Franklin said the procedure ordinance included language that he and other members of the Quorum Court didn't agree with.

"The most critical piece of legislation that was added to it from the county judge's office was speaking to a Sergeant-at-Arms," Franklin explained.

The person maintains the peace, more or less, in these meetings— the proposed ordinance said this person may be a deputy sheriff from the sheriff's office or hired by the county judge.

Franklin explained that is a red flag for him.

He wants more time, and other things included and clarified before it can pass.

"We're trying to amend it where there is some accountability for people or persons trying to get agenda items [and] add it to the actual agenda," Franklin said.

Now he and another Justice of the Peace for district one, Alfred Carroll, claimed that Robinson is using that against them.

Justices are paid once a month using direct deposit, but Carroll said issues with payment for their insurance premiums have prevented him and other members from being paid.

Carroll alleged that the county judge has their paper checks but has been withholding them— and that's an inconvenience for him.

"That is just so horrendous that you would use your authority not to sign the voucher to give justices their per diem compensation," Carroll said.

We reached out to County Judge Robinson's office regarding these allegations and have not received a response.

We also visited County Attorney Terry Wynne's office, but were told: "his schedule was swamped."

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