While the discussion was civil, Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace Bobby Hart left no doubt that he was not pleased with the collection services of Perdue, Brandon, Fielder, Collins & Mott during the Palo Pinto County commissioners court meeting Monday.
Hart indicated that the firm was not able to access sufficient information for sending notifications to those with outstanding fines and court costs.
“They can’t see part of the system,” he said. “I don’t see any correction that can be made.”
Hart’s presentation was the result of numerous calls from irate people who had made arrangements to pay fines or who were appealing their fines and yet received a pre-warrant notification from the collection firm.
“I don’t want my clerks to get the abuse they’ve been submitted to,” he added.
What he asked was that his office be allowed to retain Graves, Humphries & Stahl Ltd., the former collection agency.
Hart stated that company had access to the records that showed who was paying or appealing. He also said the company would post notes on the record that showed who had been contacted and when.
County Auditor Steve Watson said he believed that, under Texas law, that was illegal since it was the court record.
Representatives from Perdue also stated that it was improper to post remarks to the court record. While they defended their record over the past two months, the period of time they have had the contract, there was some disagreement about what they collected and why they sent notices to those who were paying.
The Perdue representative said they just went with what the JP court had requested while the JP court clerks responded that Perdue was told to monitor each listing to determine who needed to be contacted.
Perdue claimed they had collected over $100,000, while clerks of the Precinct 5 JP court rebuttal was that much of that was through the annual warrant roundup.
Palo Pinto County Judge David Nicklas said the JP courts had been given the option to accept the Perdue firm or not and could change. However, no action was taken on approving a contract with Graves pending investigation into the legality of that firm posting information to court records.