After a judge ruled to deny his Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Motion for Reconsideration or Post Trial Motion to Alter or Amend the Judgment, attorney for Chief Delando Wilson, Renetha Frieson, filed a notice appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court of Mississippi.
In February, Wilson filed a motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Motion for Preliminary Injunction against the City of Greenville after the council voted unanimously to accept a letter of resignation from Wilson as chief of police during a closed session according to the minutes of a Jan. 5 council meeting.
Two weeks later, the city council voted unanimously to uphold the acceptance of resignation by Wilson and set the effective date at Jan. 31, 2021.
The motion alleged that the city council, at the behest of councilwoman Tasha Banks, had collectively engaged in unlawful conduct to force the resignation of Wilson and assistant chief Michael Merchant.
Frieson said the notice of appeal was filed hours after her Hon. Margaret Carey-McCray’s order was filed on March 16, which she believes will be overturned by the Supreme Court.
The order by her Hon. Carey-McCray stated, “Having reconsidered its Feb. 12, 2021 ruling and applicable law as requested by Wilson’s motion, the Court finds that the facts and the law in this case support its original decision. Miss. Code Ann. 11-51-75 (Rev. 2018) exclusively affords Wilson an adequate remedy at law. He did not perfect an appeal within ten (10) days as required to confer jurisdiction on the circuit court. This Court lacks authority to decide the merits of this case.”
Miss. Code Ann.11-51-75 states, “Any person aggrieved by a judgment or decision of the board of supervisors of a county, or the governing authority of a municipality, may appeal the judgment or decision to the circuit court of the county in which the board of supervisors is the governing body or in which the municipality is located.”
Frieson said on the jurisdictional issue as it pertains to the ruling, “We believe the law reads differently based on the precedent in this state — the interpretation needs to be clarified by the Supreme Court because the way that it was interpreted here at the lower court, in this office’s opinion, is not the way the Supreme Court has interpreted that.”
For such clarity, Frieson has appealed to the Supreme Court of Mississippi.
“And, if this office is correct, which we believe we are on the interpretation of the law, the matter will come back on its merits,” she added.
Wilson maintains he was not terminated, nor did he resign.
The introduction of Wilson’s motion for Preliminary Injunction filed on Feb. 4 states, “On Feb. 3, 2021, the attorney for the City of Greenville called legal counsel for Chief Wilson and informed her that the city was contemplating contacting the Sheriff Department to physically remove Chief Wilson from the premises of the police department based on the city council’s acceptance of a non-existent resignation. Counsel for Chief Wilson informed the city attorney that while “we do not concede to any alleged order of the city council accepting Chief Wilson’s resignation,” counsel will instruct Chief Wilson not to physically enter into the police department.”
Frieson said “technically” and for all “legal purposes,” Wilson is still the chief of police for the City of Greenville.
Wilson has not reported for duty at GPD as Frieson advised him to not return to the premises until the legal matter has been settled.
She said it was made clear to the city that Wilson’s physical absence was not a “concession.”
On whether or not Wilson is still being compensated as such, Frieson said, “As far as I know,” noting her uncertainty as to whether there was some clerical issue with his last paycheck.
“I don’t know if there was an issue with the payroll, but it was shorter than what it normally is,” she said. “He did receive payment and he has been receiving payment since all of this began.”
Frieson said she has notified the city of the matter, but has yet to hear back regarding it.
“We named an interim chief after the resignation of Chief Delando Wilson and he will serve as the interim chief until such time a permanent chief is named and appointed by the Greenville City Council,” Mayor Errick Simmons said.