COVINGTON — A motion to offer Newton County Attorney Megan Martin a six-month contract was amended Tuesday night to add that the county will continue to accept applications for the position during the six months.
District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson, who made the motion for the six-month contract at an Aug. 24 Board of Commissioners meeting, also made the motion to continue to accept applications, saying that was his intent when he made the motion on Aug. 24.
The motion was approved by Henderson, District 3 Commissioner Alana Sanders and District 2 Commissioner Demond Williams. District 1 Commissioner Stan Edwards and District 5 Commissioner Ronnie Cowan were opposed.
Martin, a partner with Jarrard & Davis, which contracts with the county for legal services, was not present at the Sept. 7 meeting of the BOC due a family health issue, and no other attorney was there to advise the commissioners. County Manager Lloyd Kerr said the absence of an attorney was due to a miscommunication between himself and Martin.
Since there was no attorney present, Henderson repeatedly objected to voting on most of the measures on the agenda, and the meeting was cut short.
On Friday, the county issued a statement reaffirming its “strong relationship” with Jarrard & Davis.
“Newton County has a strong partnership with Jarrard & Davis and appreciates the legal advice and guidance the firm has provided since the relationship commenced more than five years ago,” the county stated. “Newton County and Jarrard & Davis work together on a daily basis addressing the legal issues facing the county and will continue to do so until such a time as an in-house attorney is hired by the county.”
Ken Jarrard, founding partner of the firm, also weighed in on the relationship Friday.
“Jarrard & Davis highly values its professional relationship with Newton County,” said Jarrard. “No matter what direction Newton County chooses for its legal representation, be it to remain with Jarrard & Davis or transition to an in-house model, we will support Newton County in all they do.”
Henderson, Mason and Sanders are the same three commissioners who voted in August to extend the six-month contract to Martin. The contract term has been described by some county residents as less than a good faith offer.
The contract offered to Martin is the result of a decision by the board last year to move to an in-house attorney.
Martin has worked for the county for six years under a contract with the law firm. She was one of two final candidates for the position.
It is not yet clear if Martin will accept the offer of a six-month contract or make a counter offer.