By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – A specially appointed judge will consider a request for dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Lee County School Superintendent Mike Scott against two state Democratic officials, including party chairman Jamie Franks of Mooreville.
Franks, a former state House member, and Eric Hampton, chairman of the Lee County Democratic Party, are asking that former Court of Appeals Judge Billy Bridges of Rankin County dismiss Scott’s lawsuit.
Scott’s attorney, Jim Waide of Tupelo, told Bridges in a hearing Friday afternoon that he filed his lawsuit against Jamie Franks to speed up the resolution of a potential alienation of affection lawsuit against Scott.
Bridges, who was appointed by the state Supreme Court after area judges withdrew from the case, heard oral arguments on the issue and said he would take the matter under advisement for 30 days.
Franks and Hampton attended the hour-long hearing, Scott did not.
While Friday’s hearings delved deep into the state’s sometimes complex rules of civil procedure, the issue revolves around a fairly straightforward issue: During the summer, the Lee County Democratic Party tried to force Scott to resign for what was described as improper conduct.
Scott, who was elected in 2007 as a Democrat, has admitted that he had an affair with Lisa Franks, a Lee County School District employee who at the time was married to Franks.
Jason Herring of Tupelo, the attorney for Franks, and Paul Chiniche of Oxford, the attorney for Hampton, essentially argued that the grounds on which Scott filed the lawsuit are improper.
Scott alleges that Franks tried to extort, defame and interfere with his employment, among other things.
Herring said Scott might have suffered damages from his family and even from the public as a result of the affair, “but is Jamie Franks responsible for those damages? I think Mike Scott might be responsible for his own conduct … not Jamie Franks.”
Waide told Bridges that Scott filed the lawsuit as a way to resolve the alienation of affection lawsuit that Franks threatened to file, but has yet to do so.
He said Scott wants to run for re-election next year and the potential lawsuit could still be hanging over his head then. Plus, Waide said the Lee County Democratic Party had said it would not certify Scott to run as a Democrat.
“Mr. Scott wants to get it resolved,” Waide said.
He said Scott admitted the affair and is not proud of it, but said he did not break up the Frankses’ marriage. He said there had been “discussions about alleged affairs Mr. Franks engaged in.” In the lawsuit, Scott is asking not for monetary damages, but for a declaratory judgment that he does not owe Franks anything.
Herring told the judge that under state laws and rules, a person has three years to file an alienation of affection lawsuit.
“Mr. Franks should not be treated any differently,” Herring said.
Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.