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story.lead_photo.caption Washington County Justice of the Peace Eva Madison (left) and Washington County Judge Joseph Wood.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Justice of the Peace Eva Madison sued Washington County administrator Joseph Wood and members of his staff, saying they violated the Freedom of Information Act by not providing her with documents she requested about the proposed 2019 budget.

Madison's attorney, Autumn Tolbert, filed the complaint last Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court.

Madison had questions about the budget that were not answered in a Nov. 13 Budget and Finance Committee meeting, according to the lawsuit. Madison said Wood, the county judge, was at the meeting, as was Carl Gales, his chief of staff. Madison said Wood did not respond to her questions and Gales refused to answer them. Madison said Justice of the Peace Bill Ussery, the chairman of the committee, told her to submit her questions in writing and "he would get answers for her."

Madison said she submitted her questions, which included requests for information about road work the county was doing with Tontitown, according to the lawsuit. Madison said she submitted a second request for information, including for the contract for the road work and any and all correspondence related to the contract, after receiving an answer to her initial questions before the Quorum Court meeting Nov. 15.

Madison said in her complaint that she had received no response by Wednesday. She names Wood, Gales and Charles Ward, the county's road superintendent, in her lawsuit, identifying them as the parties from whom she requested information.

The lawsuit also alleges a second Freedom of Information Act violation relating to "defamatory photos" taken at the Nov. 15 Quorum Court meeting by Lester. According to Madison's complaint, Lester posted the photos on Facebook, "falsely accusing her of not standing to honor her fellow justices of the peace who are veterans" during a ceremony.

Madison said Thursday that the county has made a partial response, providing her with the photos she requested but not other documents.

Metro on 12/04/2018

Print Headline: JP suing county exec over records

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