Gary Jiles, a Conway attorney representing Conway Corp, did not act in contempt of the state Supreme Court in an ongoing lawsuit over a water line easement, a judge acting as a specially appointed finder of fact in the matter has concluded.
According to findings of fact filed on Thursday, Jiles "at no time sought or obtained any Order to Pay" in defiance of a state Supreme Court ruling that struck down a Mike Maggio order.
Jiles and his associate attorney, Matthew Brown, were accused by Plaintiffs’ attorney Kent Walker of seeking to garnish the paychecks of two Faulkner County residents to pay Jiles’ attorney’s fees and costs for preparing for trial and prohibited them from making any further filings in the lawsuit until the cost was paid.
Walker asked for, and received, a continuation the day that the land condemnation case was supposed to go to trial. Maggio granted the continuation, but ordered the plaintiffs to pay more than $20,000 in fees and costs incurred in the three weeks Jiles and his firm prepared for the trial.
Walker appealed this order, and the state Supreme Court agreed that it amounted to an unconstitutional hindrance of the plaintiffs’ right to access to the court. But after the Supreme Court order staying any attempt to collect, at least one paycheck was garnished.
The findings of fact released on Thursday indicate that specially appointed retired Judge John Plegge is satisfied that "[a]t no time has Jiles, Brown or any other employee of Millar Jiles LLP either sought or obtained any Order to Pay with regard to the Garnishment." Rather, the findings of fact show, Walmart and/or its payroll company, ADP, kept up wage garnishment sua sponte, or on their own, after they had been notified of the stay, and that any contempt of the Court’s order would fall on them, not Jiles and his office.
The controversy stems from a 2011 condemnation action securing for Conway and Conway Corporation a 20-foot utility easement across a private home and farm. The landowners have claimed damages related to drainage and erosion.