Several lawsuits dismissed in Gould; new ones could be filed

STAR CITY — Multiple lawsuits involving Gould municipal officials have been dismissed, Circuit Judge Rob Wyatt Jr. of White Hall said Thursday morning, on a joint motion from the opposing sides.

Gould Mayor Earnest Nash Jr. had been scheduled to answer a contempt of court citation over access to records and files in the city recorder-treasurer’s city hall office. Recorder-treasurer Pamela Barley-Gibson maintains she still does not have full access to her office, the office computer and city hall’s access codes.

Nash was jailed by Wyatt in early October for failure to comply with Wyatt’s order to provide the keys for access to the office to recorder-treasurer. The mayor was released from custody after Nash’s attorneys said he had complied with Wyatt’s order to provide the office keys Barley-Gibson.

Barley-Gibson’s attorney, Howard M. “Corky” Holthoff of Dumas, said he agreed to the dismissal “to clear the decks,” adding he plans to file a new suit against Nash in her behalf.

“We will start over with a completely different lawsuit,” Holthoff said.

Nash’s attorneys, Hank Bates of Little Rock and Gene McKissic of Pine Bluff, were not immediately available for comment.

Wyatt has upheld Barley-Gibson’s January appointment as recorder-treasurer by the Gould City Council.

She said she could not comply with requests from Nash and the Gould Citizens Advisory Council for municipal records until she has full access to the office.

Meanwhile, a trial date has been set for Feb. 11 for Nash on a felony forgery count, two counts of malfeasance in office and for obstructing governmental operations. He also faces charges of abuse of office and theft of property.

Nash challenged the legality of Barley-Gibson’s appointment, vetoing the council action repeatedly. Aldermen overrode each veto.

Barley-Gibson is the only official currently authorized to sign checks for the city, but by state law, there must be two signers. The other check signer first resigned, then was removed as an alderman and the council has yet to meet with a quorum and appoint someone to co-sign checks.