Price, Jenkins tussle over gavel at Commissioners Court




Posted on July 3, 2012 at 7:17 PM

DALLAS — It's already being dubbed the "gavel unravel" — a physical struggle at Dallas county Commissioners Court between Judge Clay Jenkins and Commissioner John Wiley Price.

While Price's courtroom outbursts are nothing new, Tuesday's confrontation could be the first time it involved aggression toward another commissioner.

In February 2011, Price went off, telling courtroom protesters to “go to hell."

Last July, Price attacked reporters trying to enter his office.

Price is also known for his not-so-subtle courtroom directives to Jenkins.

But now —  in an unprecedented show of aggression — Commissioner Price has turned on Judge Jenkins.

When Jenkins banged his gavel to quiet Commissioner Mike Cantrell at Tuesday's meeting,  Price snatched away the judge's gavel.

Jenkins snatched it right back.

Despite being named the target of an FBI corruption investigation last summer, Price's domineering courtroom character is unwavering. What may be changing is Judge Jenkins' perceived reluctance to stand his ground.

"Each of the commissioners and the judge have an equal vote,” Judge Jenkins said. “I'm the presiding officer of the court.  To the extent that needs to be addressed, I will address it with the commissioner."

Commissioner Maurine Dickey, no stranger to courtroom theatrics, said Tuesday’s episode epitomizes the pressure-cooked environment of an FBI investigation.

“This doesn’t surprise me,” Dickey said. “This is a very difficult time in Dallas County."

Price left the meeting without speaking to reporters, as he has done since an FBI affidavit was unsealed last month that accuses Price of several criminal violations.

Judge Jenkins said he will continue to exercise control over the Commissioners Court as he sees fit.