An attorney representing the Mobile County Commission filed a petition for rehearing with the Alabama Supreme Court today, asking justices to reconsider an 8-1 ruling in favor of District Attorney Ashley Rich that’s less than two weeks old.
The filing is the latest in a legal battle that has stretched on since 2012 when Rich filed suit against the Commission seeking additional funding for her office.
Based on the March 11 ruling, the county is ordered to pay millions in back pay to Rich’s office and adjust the salaries of her assistant district attorneys going forward. While the order would more than double some salaries, Rich has offered a “reasonable” settlement she says would bring ADA salaries in line with those of other large counties.
Rich laid those intentions out in a proposed settlement released to the media last week, a process the county’s attorney LaVeeda Battle said should normally be confidential. In addition, Battle pointed out Rich’s disclosures to the media excluded several conditions of her proposed settlement.
That back and forth is detailed in this week’s cover story, but one condition of the settlement claimed if the county sought “reconsideration, clarification, rehearing or any other such relief,” the offer would be rescinded. Though Rich’s office hasn’t confirmed it, it’s likely the motion Battle filed today has officially taken her offer off the table.
Asked for comment on the filing, Battle said she felt the county “made some very strong arguments.”
“We carefully reviewed the (March 11) opinion and feel our argument is very consistent with what the court has said previously,” Battle continued.
Battle and Rich’s attorney Jeff Hartley have continued the skirmish from a legal standpoint, but Commissioner Connie Hudson has also moved her efforts to avert the ruling into the political realm.On Wednesday, she traveled to Montgomery to address Mobile County’s Legislative Delegation in hopes they would repeal the two local acts Rich based her lawsuit on. So far, the legislators have taken no action on the request.
Though Hudson has kept her statements to the media brief, she sounded off about the legal battle is her District 2 Newsletter released earlier this week.
“The Supreme Court ruling did not address the county’s argument, based on clear evidence, that the 1982 and 1988 local acts are unconstitutional,” Hudson wrote. “The county intends to request clarification from the (court) through a reconsideration process for interpretation of the salary retroactivity and other points that are vague and unclear. Clarification of such key issues could make the difference of several million dollars.”
On Thursday, the county did just that — only a day before the deadline.
It’s likely Rich will now file a counter motion protesting the need for reconsideration. The court has the final say on whether to rehear the case, but doing so requires a majority vote from five of the nine justices.
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