The battle over Gluckstadt incorporation wages on as the trial date approaches, and Mac Haik’s motion for mediation was denied.
Haik’s lawyer Jim Herring filed a motion for court annexed mediation last month. Judge James Walker denied the petition to settle the case outside of the courtroom.
The trial is set to begin on February 4, roughly two years after the first petition was filed for incorporation.
Haik, the owner of an automobile dealership within the proposed boundaries of Gluckstadt, wishes to be carved out of both Canton’s proposed area of annexation and the proposed city of Gluckstadt.
Herring said they sought mediation to help resolve several issues and questions to save money on costly litigation.
Gluckstadt incorporation attorney John Scanlon felt that mediation was not appropriate for this case. He said the law requires a court judgment in cases of annexation or incorporation.
Herring also filed a motion to compel, arguing that the Gluckstadt incorporators did not provide complete answers to discovery requests.
The judge ordered that full responses be given by the incorporators. Scanlon said that all parties met that deadline, since the motion was filed before the discovery deadline.
“If I can be frank, in my opinion (the motion) was premature,” Scanlon said. “The court did not find anything sanctionable. I would stand by our responses that we have provided to Mac Haik. We have a group of people asking the court to become a city with a governable board.”
Scanlon added that it is impossible for them to make promises or provide information that only an elected board can decide, since they do not have one yet.
He said they were able to provide the analysis of their client’s expert witness, financial analysis and other plans they could provide to residents if they become a city.
“We were able to provide what our expert witness says can be feasibly done, but we cannot make promises,” Scanlon said.
From now until the trial, both parties will continue with discovery and depositions.
Scanlon said it impossible to say how long the trial will go on.
Right now, four weeks have been scheduled for the trial. Scanlon said it is possible that it could go on longer or less than that amount of time.
The Gluckstadt incorporation case was split into two trials.
The first trial served to determine that Gluckstadt had the correct number of signatures required to move forward with the case.
Judge Walker’s judgement in March found that Gluckstadt had the correct number of signatures from qualified electors in the proposed area.
Gluckstadt was required to have signatures from two-thirds of the qualified electors.
Recently, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied petitions for interlocutory appeal from Haik and the City of Canton. An interlocutory appeal is an appeal of a ruling made before the trial itself has concluded.
The appeal petitions claimed that the signatures were gathered from an incomplete voter roll. The Mississippi Supreme Court denied these appeals.
Scanlon, an attorney for the incorporation of Gluckstadt, said that the Mississippi Supreme Court’s ruling was simply limited to not allowing interlocutory appeal at that stage.
The original petition for incorporation was filed on Feb. 1, 2017.
When the incorporation papers were filed, more than 73 percent of registered voters in the proposed city of Gluckstadt signed in support of the plan.
Mississippi law requires that 66 percent of registered voters in the area sign.
According to Scanlon, this trial will have to do with all other fact and legal issues involved in incorporating, such as police and fire protection.
The trial was originally scheduled for August 2018. However, due to appeals, the date was pushed back.
If Gluckstadt is incorporated, Walter Morrison will serve as mayor, and aldermen will include Miya Bates, Krisstel Hunt, Jayce Powell, Stephen Snell and Lisa Williams. Chris Watson serves as City Planner.
The proposed city limits will include several Madison County subdivisions, such as Ridgefield, Arrington, Red Oak, Bear Creek, Wildwood, Germantown, Panther Creek and Bradshaw Ridge.
The area takes in approximately 11.1 square miles, according to previous Sun reports.