Meridian, Miss. After a heated meeting at City Hall, the Civil Service Commission has officially decided to postpone the hearing for Officer Don Hopkins until its next meeting on March 11, a full month after its originally scheduled date.
"People just stack the deck on you. That's what it appears is going on,” Hopkins says. “We can't get due process going. Criminals get better due process than I've had in the past eight months."
Arguments became heated between City Attorney Michael Goggans and Attorney Bill Ready, Jr., who represents Officer Hopkins. Ready argues that the city has been purposefully withholding the records he needs for the case. But Goggans says the city has given Ready above and beyond what's required.
"We provided everything that we have in our possession to my knowledge relevant to this matter, which is far beyond what's required in this matter," Goggans told the commissioners.
"The city has done nothing other than trying to stall and delay in giving me what I'm entitled to, to represent this man,” Bill Ready, Jr. says.
“And I wanted them to use their power to essentially punish the city for their willful and contemptuous disregard of this commission's orders and the rules of this commission."
Ready requested that the Civil Service Commission reinstate Hopkins to his former position. Hopkins says going so long without his job has been tough on his family.
"I've got medical issues that I'm no longer able to take care of that my medical insurance was covering that I no longer have,” Hopkins says. “I'm suffering from cancer and I can't get the treatment."
But the postponed date for Hopkins' hearing is now set for the same day as Captain Dean Harper's hearing. And the commissioners say this likely means that Harper's and all future hearings will be pushed back.
"You'll probably see a snowballing of those meetings to later dates, reluctantly,” CSC Chairman John Watts says. “We didn't want to do it, but that's the only reasonable thing we could do at this time."
The Civil Service Chairman says the commissioners are hoping the two attorneys will have gathered the discovery materials they need by that time.