FLOYD INGRAM: My day in court

CJ-0402-COL-Floyd-1C-MUGI have always loved to cover court.

There is a method to everything that happens in court and figuring out how attorneys are presenting their case and what juries or judges are picking up on is interesting stuff.

Then there are the facts that make up the case. There is emotion, money and the lives of people you and I know personally.

And somewhere in the middle of all that is the truth.

It’s an interesting place

But court moves so very, very slow.

The Chickasaw County vs. Ausbern Construction case in Oxford last week was no different.


My subpoena


Yours truly was subpoenaed to appear in court last week.

It was not my first subpoena and for a reporter who loves shining a light on government, community and the court, it probably won’t be my last.

It seems the attorney for Ausbern Construction, Mark Herbert, wanted to know if the quote from Chickasaw Supervisor Jerry Hall in a paper earlier this month was the truth.

Jerry never questioned my quote and he hasn’t always liked what I have printed in the paper about this case. But Herbert hasn’t always liked what I printed in the paper either. They say if you have both sides mad at you in a court case, you are probably printing a fair and accurate story.

I was somewhat insulted that Mr. Herbert needed me to say it was a true and accurate statement.

Did he really think I was going to get on the stand and say I made it all up and it was a lie straight from the pits of Hell? I’ve been a newspaperman for more than 25 years and the only way you stay in this business is to tell the truth.

Anyway, I really think the plantiffs in this case wanted me sequestered and out of the courtroom as they examined the business records of Ausbern Construction, which included his tax returns.

I begged Judge Andrew Howorth not to throw the good people of Chickasaw County out of his courtroom and to allow me, as a reporter for the Chickasaw Journal, to cover the trial for you. I am not an attorney, it was Judge Howorth’s courtroom. Who do you think won that argument?


The case


I was tipped off about the county’s rift with Ausbern Construction a little over two years ago by an older man who was concerned with truth and justice.

It seemed like a simple business case, until our supervisors voted to get rid of attorney Elizabeth Ausbern as board attorney. Every time I have seen petty politics enter a court case, things go south. And at that point this case suddenly got very personal to both sides.

County Attorney Ed Springer admitted he made a mistake. The State Aid engineer said the best solution would be to pay Ausbern Construction. Judge Howorth even gave one of the best quotes of the whole lawsuit when he said “there seems to be some hard-headedness” by the parties in involved.

But I learned a long time ago the folks in court don’t want the truth, they want to win.

Ultimately Chickasaw County and Ed Springer were the losers in this round and got stuck for $507,000. The Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors will meet in Okolona on Thursday to discuss the verdict and their next step.

Let me assure you this story is far from over.

Dealing with the complex and winding events of court is one of the things newspapers do best. Television and radio don’t take the time to dig into those stories. And they are important to every taxpayer in Chickasaw County who is currently on the hook for a portion of the $507,000 verdict.

So you can try to keep up with all this on your own or you can pay 75-cents and read all about it in the Chickasaw Journal.

And that’s the truth!


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