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Brouhaha in Bandera's Municipal Court

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

After being placed on administrative leave at her own request, Laura Phipps, former municipal clerk for the City of Bandera, has resigned effective Sept. 8, according to City Administrator Lamar Schulz.
An alleged disagreement with Municipal Judge Frances Kaiser arose over handling of the city's jury pool, precipitating a difference of opinion between the two. Approximately two weeks ago, a meeting took place with Kaiser and various city officials. After the meeting, Kaiser resumed her judicial duties and Phipps asked to be placed on administrative leave. At that time, she had worked for the city less than four months, Kaiser said.
According to Kaiser, the dispute occurred when she and Phipps were selecting a potential jury pool for an upcoming trial. After receiving a list of names from the city utility department, Kaiser said she randomly highlighted those city residents who would receive jury summonses. "I highlighted the names randomly and methodically. I didn't know anyone living in the city," Kaiser insisted. "However, Ms. Phipps called it jury tampering."
This precipitated the meeting and Phipps' subsequent resignation.
As it turned out, the trial for which the jury was being selected was continued after all, Kaiser said.
She anticipates that the city will advertise for another municipal clerk as soon as possible. The part-time position is for 28 hours per week. As municipal judge, Kaiser works 20 hours a week.
Until a permanent clerk is hired, Martha Shoemaker is serving as interim municipal clerk. She also served as interim city secretary after the resignation of Linda Boshek.
Schulz is investigating Phipps' allegations. For her part, Phipps had no comment at this time.