Chancery judge doesn’t have jurisdiction in Briarwood One case, city says

Briarwood One building
Briarwood One building(WLBT)
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 1:48 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A chancery judge is being asked to toss out her recent decision blocking the arrest of the Briarwood One building’s owner, with the city of Jackson saying she didn’t have the authority to do it.

Last week, the city of Jackson filed a motion to dismiss the temporary restraining order put in place to bar the arrest of Mike Kohan, owner of the dilapidated former office building on Briarwood Drive, for failing to tear down the facility or bring it into compliance with city code.

In a six-page motion submitted Friday, attorneys for the city are asking Chancery Judge Tametrice Hodges to dissolve the temporary restraining order and dismiss Kohan’s claims for injunctive relief and declaratory judgment, saying the “court granted injunction on issues outside of [its] equity jurisdiction.”

“Chancery courts cannot vacate a municipal judge’s final judgment as a matter of law. This court should dissolve the TRO for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction,” the city wrote.

In February, Jackson Municipal Court Judge Jeffrey Reynolds signed an order to arrest Kohan “immediately,” about a month after he was ordered to tear down the Briarwood One building.

Reynolds previously sentenced Kohan to six months behind bars but suspended that sentence pending the demolition of the facility.

Kohan, a managing member of Briarwood Realty Holding LLC, the company that owns the 90,000-square-foot office building, appealed that decision to the chancery court, saying he never received a summons in the case.

[One a hub for business, the Briarwood One building has become a haven for vagrants, drug use and illegal dumping]

The city denies that claim, saying that Code Enforcement Manager Samantha Graves testified in January that she “notified Petitioner Kohan of the citations and trial notice via certified mail, electronic mail and by telephone” and provided the court with evidence of that service.

“The municipal court heard the merits of this case, upheld an adjudication of guilt and ordered [the] petitioners to demolish the unsafe structure,” Deputy City Attorney Jeffrey Graves wrote. “[The] petitioners ignored court orders to appear for trial despite proper notice and failed to perfect their appeal.”

“The petition for injunctive relief is flawed on its face and petitioners’ claims should be prohibited.”

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