TUPELO – Attorneys on both sides of the city’s annexation case have filed their final post-trial briefs in court, setting the stage for a much-anticipated verdict.
Specially appointed Judge Edward C. Prisock will review the most recent documents, the last of which were submitted Monday, and is expected to rule by Thanksgiving.
He’ll decide whether Tupelo can annex 16.15 square miles of land and about 2,800 people, a move strongly opposed by Lee County, the city of Saltillo and the town of Plantersville – each of which fought the case in Lee County Chancery Court.
The two sides spent 22 days this spring presenting their arguments to Prisock. The trial ended in early June, and all parties had until late summer to file their proposed findings of fact.
A finding of fact is an irrefutable statement based on evidence and testimony presented at trial. The judge uses these findings, along with other court documentation, to help form an opinion.
Tupelo filed its finding Aug. 27, Saltillo filed one three days later and Lee County filed one on Sept. 1. Plantersville tacked itself onto Lee County’s finding one week later.
On Sept. 21, Prisock allowed each party to respond to the others’ findings, triggering a new round of court documents that came in this month. Lee County also filed a motion to remove part of Tupelo’s response, which Tupelo opposed in its own motion filed Monday.
The back-and-forth paper trail simply restated the points made by each party in court: Tupelo reiterated its case to annex citing a lack of available, developable land within its current boundaries, while opponents argued against the city’s need, as well as its plan, for outward growth.
Opponents also raised one of their earliest objections – that the court lost its jurisdiction to try the case because too much time had passed between the trial and an earlier court hearing.
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal