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Politics
News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Judge Rules in Springfield-Greene County Lawsuit

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Michele Skalicky
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Rulings issued this week by a Missouri Judicial Court judge mean the City of Springfield’s lawsuit against Greene County moves forward.

The rulings by Judge John Beger Tuesday, which denied the city’s request for a partial summary judgment, also mean the city won’t have access to the county jail anytime soon.  The city, in the lawsuit, requested immediate access to the jail.

The lawsuit was filed by the city of Springfield in July 2015 in order to clarify the Greene County Sheriff’s contractual requirements concerning housing municipal inmates.  The city claims the sheriff broke a 1997 intergovernmental agreement between it and the county, which governs access to the Greene County jail.  That same year, Greene County voters approved a law enforcement sales tax to fund several community initiatives, including the jail, and the agreement was written to determine use of the tax revenue. 

Sheriff Jim Arnott stopped accepting municipal inmates in April 2015 due to overcrowding issues at the jail.  The city claims that, as part of the intergovernmental agreement, the sheriff must accept all municipal, county or federal prisoners brought to the jail.  But Presiding Greene County Commissioner Bob Cirtin says the agreement “didn’t account for the changes in population, economy and criminal justice system that have occurred here in the nearly 20 years since the tax passed.”

According to the city, the Tuesday rulings will help both parties “limit the scope of future discovery and trial issues.”