Wade files new court motion

Published 8:29 am Thursday, April 2, 2020

The years-long battle that has unfolded between Selma Mayor Darrio Melton and Selma City Treasurer Ronita Wade entered a new round this week, as Wade filed a motion in Dallas County Circuit Court calling on Melton to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for ignoring the court’s final order in the case.

In May 2019, the court issued an order forcing Melton to reinstate Wade to the “full performance of her duties” as treasurer, the culmination of the long and arduous court case that had Wade fighting for her job and Melton fighting to keep her from it.

Shortly after the final order was issued, in July 2019, the court made the order “final and permanent” and enjoined the mayor from prohibiting Wade to perform her duties as treasurer.

In that order, the judge stated that the Selma City Council had asserted that Melton’s continual efforts to sideline Wade through administrative leave “removes her from the performance of the duties of her office.”

The court agreed, noting that Melton’s continual attempts to place her on administrative leave after failing in two previous efforts to terminate her employment “appears to be a continuing effort to remove her from the performance of the duties of city treasurer and, in doing so, to avoid the strictures” of the law.

The motion, filed by Montgomery attorney Julian McPhillips, who has represented Wade alongside co-counsel David Sawyer for the duration of this court battle, stated that contrary to the court’s order in July 2019, Melton has “continued in his efforts to prohibit” Wade from performing her duties as treasurer.

The motion alleges that Melton took such action in a number of ways, including limiting or barring access to city payroll information and records, financial software, financial information and reports requested by the Selma City Council, access to the city’s payroll module and more

“As a direct and proximate result of [Melton’s] actions, [Wade] is not able to adequately perform her many duties and responsibilities as city treasurer,” the motion stated. “In direct conflict with [Wade’s] duties and responsibilities, [Melton] is further directing employees of the city treasurer’s office not to perform many duties as instructed by [Wade].”

The motion calls on the court to schedule an emergency hearing, which Melton will be ordered to attend.