Judge throws out garnishment writ against Gould

A writ of garnishment that tied up the bank accounts of the city of Gould in February was quashed Friday afternoon by Circuit Judge Rob Wyatt Jr.

On Feb. 14, Wyatt signed an order staying the writ, which had been filed by an attorney for Talvin Collins, the former police chief of Gould who sued several former members of the Gould City Council in 2012.

The four, Harry Hall, Veronica Tensley, Sonja Farley and Rosieanna Lee, were sued in their official capacities, but the City of Gould was not named in the suit, a point Wyatt made in his order Friday.

“The record shows that the City of Gould was never named as a defendant and was never served with process pursuant to the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure,” Wyatt said in the order.

He said those rules require that if a municipality is sued, a copy of the complaint and summons must be delivered to the chief executive officer of the city, which would have been then-mayor Earnest Nash Jr.

Nash resigned Feb. 20.

“The mayor is the chief executive officer of a municipal corporation and the record shows that the mayor of the City of Gould was not served with process,” Wyatt said in the order.

After the four former aldermen failed to respond to the lawsuit by Collins, a judgment of $86,000 was entered against them. The writ was filed by attorney Luther Sutter, who represented Collins.

In his request for the writ, Sutter said a lawsuit against a person in their official capacity is the same as a lawsuit against the entity itself, but attorney Gene McKissic, who represented the City of Gould, disagreed, saying that the city was never named as a defendant.

In February, Wyatt also said that Merchants and Farmers Bank of Dumas, where the City of Gould’s bank accounts are kept, was released from any responsibility to honor the garnishment until it receives further orders from the court.

Collins has since resigned his position to to pursue other interests, Nash told The Commercial in February.