Hunt County Sheriff Don Anderson has won a temporary injunction against the company which allegedly had intended to cancel his bond.

The decision Monday by 196th District Court Judge Joe Leonard means the bond will be in place for at least the next six months, eliminating for now the possibility that Anderson could be removed from office for not having the bond in place.

Attorney Robert Scott represented Anderson and said the hearing helped prove the sheriff’s point.

“All we had to do today was prove that there was a probability that we would win the final lawsuit and there was a probability that we would be damaged if the temporary restraining order was not continued into a temporary injunction,” Scott said. “We did prove a lot of our case today beyond that, but it wasn’t necessary.”

Scott said the injunction will remain in effect until such time as a trial is scheduled to determine whether the insurer and bonding company, CNA Surety and Western Surety, should be required to make a payment to the county from Anderson’s bond.

Both Nancy Hamren, who represented Western Surety, and attorney Grant Blaines, who was intervening in the suit on behalf of Hunt County, declined comment following the three-hour hearing.

CNA Surety and Western Surety had planned to send Hunt County officials a check on Aug. 3 to cover the losses stemming from the deficit uncovered during the 2003 investigation of the “inmate trust fund” at the Hunt County Jail. The company reportedly had also planned to cancel Anderson’s bond at the same time.

Anderson filed a temporary restraining order, although the hearing on Anderson’s request for an injunction in the case had been delayed until after the Commissioners Court could determine whether Anderson had a bond to begin with.

During a special Commissioners Court meeting on Sept. 8, a statement from County Attorney Joel Littlefield was read which indicated the bond was indeed in place.

The Hunt County Commissioners Court then hired Blaines to intervene in the dispute and represent the county’s interests. Blaines had filed a motion claiming the temporary restraining order was invalid, while asking the order be dissolved and that Anderson be denied the injunction.

Scott in turn filed a motion Monday morning, claiming the action being taken by the insurance company was barred by the Statute of Limitations.

In opening arguments, Scott noted how the audit during which the $16,800 shortfall from the inmate account was discovered could not determine how the deficit occurred.

“It’s very possible that there was no loss, that it was an accounting error and that the money went to the wrong place,” Scott said.

Hamren said Western Surety, the bonding company, had the right to cancel the bond at any time, as long as it provided 30 days notice.

Blaines said from the county’s viewpoint, the argument regarding whether Anderson has a bond was irrelevant.

“It is all about the money,” Blaines said. “That’s what this is about. He doesn’t want to pay the money.”

County Auditor Jimmy Hamilton was called as a witness and testified the audit revealed the shortfall mostly likely came from either an employee theft, overpayments to a vendor or overpayments to the county for inmate medical reimbursements. Hamilton said he had been informed as far back as late 2000 that some overpayments may have been made regarding the reimbursements.

Blaines argued that two of the three possibilities were under the direct control of the sheriff’s office, while Scott claimed that if it was a bookkeeping error, then the county might not be able to prove there was a loss.

Scott also alluded to how the insurance claim for the deficit was filed by Hunt County Judge Joe Bobbitt, one month after Bobbitt was defeated in the Republican primary in seeking re-election and some 32 months after the deficit was discovered.

The issues of what type of bond Anderson maintained and whether the bonds were in place also came back up again during the hearing.

Hamren explained Anderson was in possession of a position bond, filed by the county. A second bond, filed in 1997, Hamren argued, only covered the period during Anderson’s first four years in office, through 2001.

Anderson filed yet another bond in May of this year, although Anderson said the bond was never put into effect as the Commissioners Court never approved it.

In closing, Scott said denying the injunction would cause irreparable damage to Anderson.

“Obviously, they will file for removal of him as sheriff under the statute,” Scott said, adding Anderson would be given 20 days to come up with a new bond or leave office.

Blaines replied that Anderson could always file for a new bond, or contest the cancellation of the bond.

“The harm cannot be that the plaintiff owes people money or that he may be kicked out of office,” Blaines said. “We’re trying to replace public funds that are missing.”

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