The City of Jackson has backed away from an attempt to appeal the largest fine issued by the Mississippi Ethics Commission in state history.
The City of Jackson has dropped its appeal of the largest fine ever issued by the Mississippi Ethics Commission and must now comply with the order.
The incident occurred in August of 2021, when WLBT’s parent company Gray Television was awarded compensation of $170,397.50 from the City of Jackson after a ruling from the Ethics Commission. This was to cover legal expenses that were incurred by the media conglomerate after several violations of the Public Records Act.
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Originally, WLBT’s C.J. LeMaster made seven requests for public records from the Jackson Police Department regarding compensation, crime reports, department memos and more. The complaint was filed in 2019, and finally decided in 2021.
Not only was the city ordered to pay, but several administrative changes were ordered to ensure that public records requests could be met in the future. The Ethics Commission specifically urged the City of Jackson to adopt the Mississippi Model Public Records Rules and implement them across the city.
In August of 2022, the Hinds County Chancery Court, under Chancellor J. Dewayne Thomas, rendered its final judgement after the City of Jackson “has taken no further steps in pursuit of appeal. Instead, the city has now indicated its intention to abandon the same.”
The city originally filed a Notice of Appeal in August of 2021 after the Ethics Commission order.
With the abandonment of the appeal, the court dismissed it and found that the Commission entered a reasonable and “well-thought Final Order” which showed a legitimate public concern that outweighed any privacy right.
The judgement also requires the City of Jackson to comply with the final order of the Mississippi Ethics Commission.
You can read the court documents below: