HomeNewsEmails detail efficiency issues in city court

Emails detail efficiency issues in city court

“We spend a lot of money on other departments, but we seem to let our City Court go to waste. We have never ever been fully staffed. We have never ever been fully supported.” City Court Clerk Daryl Hubbard said during The Jackson Post’s Mayoral Forum last Tuesday. 

This was one of many accusations Hubbard has made over the last several months, directed towards Mayor Scott Conger’s office. In February, he told the City Council that if he wasn’t elected, he would quit, and in March, he sent a letter to all members of the Jackson City Council, describing a “political takeover” of his office. 

Hubbard also said in an interview that part of the reason he is running is due to the ongoing issues in the clerk’s office. The main issue is the hiring of Mitiz Merriweather, the Chief Deputy Court Clerk. 

“I thought she was coming to help. And she has no experience. The office is a madhouse now. All the courts are messed up. The money is messed up. It’s just insane,” Hubbard said in his campaign interview.

“So the mayor, without posting the position, without my approval, without even my knowledge, hired somebody to run the office, under the guise of a study,”  Hubbard said in a different interview, “She doesn’t know anything about courts. She doesn’t know anything about how a court operates, what we’re going through. 

“So he sends her over to help, and because she doesn’t know anything about the court side, she’s doing emails and emailing employees, and they’re already struggling. So he brought in somebody, that instead of being able to help us, he’s creating a whole area of work for the staff, responding to her emails,” Hubbard continued. 

A records request by The Jackson Post clears up, at least part, of the accusations and claims. 

Background on Jackson City Court

The Jackson City Court is a hybrid office. It is funded by the City of Jackson, but it is run by two elected officials: the Court Clerk and the Judge. Both City Court Clerk Daryl Hubbard and Judge Blake Anderson have been in office for about 25 years. 

The Jackson City Court is also considered a General Sessions Court, so it conducts criminal cases along with the civil cases city courts typically oversee. According to Daryl Hubbard, the clerk’s office oversees 14 courts and 5,000 criminal and civil cases. Fully staffed, the office has six employees, and the longest-remaining employee has worked there approximately four years.

In 2020, a Comptroller’s Report highlighted multiple deficiencies in the court clerk’s office, including safeguarding cash, financial transactions, computer security, and record keeping. Through the same investigation, an employee was charged with official misconduct and forgery, but later had the case dismissed. Records show the City agreed to pay that employee $125,000 in a settlement. People, who were defendants in City Court, were paid a $525,000 settlement.

This spring, the City Council voted to conduct a study on the Jackson City Court, to study its operations, functions, personnel, technology, record keeping and economic impact.

Hiring of Chief Deputy Court Clerk

After the March City Council meeting, where Hubbard was questioned about the letter he wrote council members, City Manager Alex Reed sent an email to Hubbard and others detailing the timeline of Merriweather’s hire. The Jackson Post was able to receive that email through a records request. 

Kayla Ray, the most senior employee at the Jackson City Court, emailed Mayor Scott Conger, City Manager Alex Reed, and HR Manager Lynn Henning in December 2022 about staffing issues at the court clerk’s office, according to the email. 

“The work environment has become hostile due to lack of communication between Daryl and other department heads. I understand everyone has their differences and people will not always see eye-to-eye, but I am personally affected because of the issues fall on me. I am very overwhelmed as an office manager because I do not have help from anyone. Things are never discussed with me nor I am never made aware of changes. I am trying my hardest to remain at this job, but I cannot handle the stress if things continue this way,” Ray said in the email. 

“I am in need of two employees, and as my supervisor I am begging you to please let City Court hire two people,” Ray continued. She also said she would quit if the workload could not be redistributed.

Reed said after that, he met with Merriweather, who already had interest in working at the City Court. At the time, she was a paralegal for Spraggins, Barnett and Cobb, the law firm that represents the City of Jackson. She was also the treasurer for Hubbard’s 2018 reelection campaign. The email also says Merriweather mentioned Hubbard coached her kids in basketball. 

Reed then explains the meeting he had with Hubbard January 4, 2023:

“Mr. Hubbard expressed the issues that he was understaffed, and no employee had any longevity or institutional memory of court practices. I asked Mr. Hubbard if he knew Ms. Merriweather, and he said yes. Mr. Hubbard mentioned that he had tried to get her to work there before, but the jobs did not pay enough. I asked Mr. Hubbard if we paid more, and established the position as Chief Deputy Court Clerk, if he would be in favor of that, and he said yes. I asked Mr. Hubbard if he believed that Ms. Ray would be upset, and he said no. I offered advice that if Ms. Ray continues, that [position] would offer a viable career path for her,” Reed said. 

Chief Deputy Court Clerk is now the most senior role in the clerk’s office. According to Reed’s email, Merriweather reports to Hubbard. 

The City Court faces ongoing problems

Since her hiring in January, Merriweather has regularly emailed people at City Hall about ongoing issues she has found in the clerk’s office. One of the issues was the way cash is handled by the court clerk’s office. 

“There is one issue that may need your immediate attention. Since I have been here, I noticed that all clerks may have access to all cash drawers, as I was told that the cash drawers are not locked. At the end of the day, different deputy clerks remove the cash from the drawer, and place it in the money bag. The cash drawers for each clerk are not opened or closer properly at the end of the day. A clerk has entered the safe to make change from the money bag. Who should have the combination to the safe? With Daryl being out for a while, perhaps internal controls need to be set up, until he returns, so that the City will not run into the same issues it did a few years ago, regarding the handling of the cash in the office. As both Kayla and Daryl refuse to train me, I am not prepared to address the issue. The above procedures may be proper, and I am over-reacting. However, I want to call them to your attention,” Merriweather said in an email to HR Director Lynn Henning, Reed, and Conger.

Conger sent a separate email to Internal Auditor Tawanika McKinney, asking her to look into the issue:

“Could you look into how cash is handled in city court? There is some concern that the cash drawers are not being opened and closed properly, and that there aren’t any internal controls nor any checks and balances for handling cash,” Conger wrote. 

“Absolutely, I set them up on a plan right after the comptroller’s report and followed up several times to ensure they were on track… They have had much turn over and changes. I will get on it…” McKinney responded. 

Other emails addressed unpaid balances with collection agencies:

“I am happy to report that today I submitted $1,557,466.66 of unpaid fines to Universal Collection Agency. I worked with Brian Taylor of IT and Tony Barnette of Local Government to gather the information,” Merriweather said.

A different email thread showed the clerk’s office had to pay almost $1,200 in fines for paying litigation taxes late, and a state employee had asked Hubbard to set up an online account to help pay on time.

“The important takeaway from for me is if we are paying interest and penalties for holding on to money for too long that is a pass through situation, it is the taxpayers that have to make up the difference,” Reed said in an email to McKinney, Conger, and City Recorder Bobby Arnold.

A different email, from someone facing a traffic citation, said the person called the Jackson City Court for two weeks trying to resolve the issue, but could not get someone to answer the phone. Other email threads explain issues with people getting expungements processed. 

“Lynn [Henning], we have a serious problem that needs to be addressed. We have several individuals who are calling about the processing of their expungements. Some have not been taken care of in over a year. Kayla is responsible for the processing, and I have reached out to her to see if she needs assistance in processing them. However, she did not respond. It is sad that individuals’ lives are on hold due to her unconcern,” Merriweather said.

Merriweather also told Conger, Reed, and Henning about issues she had gathering employees for training. While several employees said they would attend, Ray and another employee did not respond or attend the training. She also wrote about scheduling confusion. 

“Is Daryl still working at the City Court Clerk? He pops in and out. Maybe this is an issue that needs to be addressed. If he is not, it appears he may be calling the shots through the staff,” Merriweather said in that email. 

City taking corrective actions

In early 2021, McKinney wrote a plan to fix many of the problems that came out in the Comptroller’s report. 

The study with the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service is also ongoing. 

Daryl Hubbard is running for City of Jackson Mayor, against Scott Conger. According to records, he pulled the petition to run on January 17, after Merriweather was interviewed for the job.

Julia Ewoldt, julia@jacksonpost.news

A correction has been made to clarify how much money the former employee received in a settlement with the City. According to records, the employee received a $125,000 settlement, and defendants who were affected by the situation received a $525,000 settlement.



  1. It seems Hubbard may have a point, if Merriweather is suppose to report to Hubbard, why is she sending all those emails to Conger, Reed and Henning? Shes going over the head of her direct Supervisor. Why wasnt that addressed in the article of why she was doing this? If she wasnt sure how things were supposed to be handled, shouldnt she ask her Supervisor first before going over his head?

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