By Mike Linn
PORTALES — A long, drawn-out feud took a major step toward resolution on Friday when Municipal Judge Fred Arnold dismissed contempt of court charges he filed against two Portales police officers.
The dismissal came just hours before Arnold was scheduled to appear in court to defend one of three charges he filed against police officers late last year.
At 11:34 a.m. Friday, District Judge Stephen Quinn signed a stipulated order stating Arnold’s desire to dismiss charges of contempt of court he filed against Officer Gary Adkins. A similar dismissal for charges filed against Sgt. Fred Hamner is awaiting a judge’s signature, Berry said.
Since Arnold fined Portales police officers in the fall of last year, officers have been filing all cases in Roosevelt County Magistrate Court. Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said officers will begin filing cases in Arnold’s court immediately.
“Regardless of the issue, we would really like to start putting things back in his court,” Berry said. “It’s better for us; it’s better for the city; it will start slowing things down in Magistrate Court. We fully intend to go ahead and start, fairly soon, go ahead and start sending those back through.
“If he (Arnold) chooses to find an officer in contempt again under these circumstances obviously we’ll fight it,” Berry said.
Arnold did not return phone calls to discuss his reasons for the dismissals.
Earlier this month, District Judge Robert Brack ruled in favor of PPD Officer Anthony Sanford, who Arnold fined $100 for contempt of court. Sanford missed court, city officials said, because of a filing blunder and he was not showing disrespect for Arnold.
In his ruling, Brack noted that judges should use caution when fining officers for contempt.
As of the end of May, the city was $15,681 under budget for funds received from Municipal Court. City officials said the lack of cases in Arnold’s court for more than six months accounted for the shortfall.
Municipal Court is a source of income for the city via penalties from traffic citations and other fines, officials said.