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Indiana mayor takes legal action in dispute with judge over access to county courthouse

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KOKOMO, Indiana — A central Indiana mayor is taking legal action after a judge held him in contempt over a city construction project that's blocking a courthouse entrance.

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight filed an emergency motion Wednesday to transfer the case to the Indiana Court of Appeals.

He also filed a stay of contempt order with the Indiana Supreme Court, asserting the judge's order has impeded work on a pedestrian trail on the Howard County Courthouse's west side, the Kokomo Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1CtrAc0 ).

Goodnight's motion to transfer states that work on the Industrial Heritage Trail was suspended Aug. 26 for "fear of additional legal action against the city and its contractors."

Courthouse access and construction of the trail have long been points of contention between Goodnight and Superior Court Judge William Menges.

Howard County Commissioner Tyler Moore said that Menges and Sheriff Steve Rogers had long advocated making sure that access to the courthouse was maintained for the transporting of prisoners.

Menges ordered Rogers to bring Goodnight in on a direct contempt of court charge Aug. 26 after construction crews blocked access to the courthouse's driveway with 10 concrete sewer pipes.

"It's always stemmed from the need for access off the west side of the courthouse onto that path," Moore said.

The contempt of court order said Goodnight, a Democrat, had given directions for a contractor to place the pipes so they blocked a courthouse drive and prevent county crews from spreading stone to reopen the route so "potentially dangerous inmates" could be brought to court hearings.

Menges, a former county Republican Party chairman, wrote that Goodnight's "actions were intentional and solely for the purpose of disrupting the regular proceedings of the court."

Goodnight filed an appeal of Menges' contempt order three days after it was issued. He also filed a verified emergency motion to stay order of contempt, but that was denied the same day by the Indiana Court of Appeals by a 2-1 vote.


Information from: Kokomo Tribune, http://www.ktonline.com

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