Check here for updates on the emergency meeting called at 1:30pm at La Paz County Superior Court to discuss the current County financial situation caused by Writs of Garnishment in the Yakima case.
1:21- The courtroom is full, standing room only. This comes a full 10 minutes before the meeting is due to start.
1:22- Some signs have been spotted: “No money, no work.”
1:24- The attorneys are here, including La Paz County Attorney Sam Vederman and County Administrator Dan Field.
1:29- Department Heads are sitting with everyone else; they’re all hearing this together.
1:32- The Judge has taken his seat. Court is in session.
1:33- Judge recognizes all important parties including some by phone, including the Arizona Attorney General and a representative of Wells Fargo Bank.
1:36- Many motions have been filed by multiple parties, including many to quash the Writs of Garnishment.
1:37- A lawyer for the County says he believes the Writ is illegal.
1:40- He says the Garnishment cannot be allowed because County government assets are protected by state statute.
1:42- Roughly $900,000 in payroll would have been issued today. Lawyer lists the ways in which these Writs are impacting the County.
1:43- He says courts across the nation have held for 100 years that these Writs cannot be applied to government. “Frankly we do not understand why……. therefore they need to be quashed.”
1:46- Important moment: the State Attorney General says that the Garnishments are illegal and are against state statute.
1:51- Yakimas lawyer says the action was not intended to harm. Skeptical looks in the gallery. He says nobody can deny the $13m judgment in Yakima’s favor.
1:53- Yakima says it is in the same position as the employees in the courtroom; they are all claimants to County money who want to be paid.
1:55- Yakimas attorney is setting out the case for keeping the Writ in place, citing another statute in contradiction to the arguments by every other party.
1:58- “The County and those who have joined the County have failed as a matter of law…” to quash the Writs.
2:00- Yakima says that if someone can prove their money in that account is not the County’s, then their Garnishments would not attach to it. But, “that may be hard to prove…”
2:02- County has a chance to respond. “Yakima denies that it had an intent…” to harm County operations, but it has and it is, they say.
2:04- County says an additional Writ was issued yesterday afternoon for an extra $1 million. All of this shows a lack of good faith by Yakima, they say. Yakima is trying to “go to the head of the line” for payouts, they say.
2:06- County characterizes Yakima’s argument as saying that the law only protects Counties directly, but not if they put their money in the bank (“That doesn’t make sense, your honor.”)
2:07- Most of the money belonged to entities other than the County…
2:10- “There is essentially no money that the County has at this point…” that is not belonging to someone else or needed for necessary operations.
2:10- Judge: “If this action hasn’t gotten the attention of La Paz County…. I don’t know what would.”
2:12- There are no relevant cases in the state to cite, Judge says.
2:12- It may be the County’s burden to prove that the funds are needed… but the Judge seems to be granting the motion to quash the Writs.
2:18- Funds are still in the possession of Wells Fargo. The bank is asking if it should release the funds immediately or wait for a written order.
2:20- The court is agreeing to the quick release of the funds needed for payroll and other essential services.
2:23- Yakima wants part of the order to include a stipulation that may move the matter forward between the parties and make it clear that the County needs to work to pay its debt to Yakima.
2:26- The court grants the motions to quash the Writs of Garnishment. Court is adjourned.