News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Price's Aggressive Move Surprises Dallas County Judge

BJ Austin
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, on Commissioner's Court

The gavel-grabbing incident began as County Judge Clay Jenkins lightly tapped his gavel to interrupt a testy exchange between Commissioners Maurine Dickey and Mike Cantrell.  

Judge Jenkins, an enforcer of decorum does not approve of personal criticisms of colleagues in public sessions. Commissioner John Wiley Price apparently did not approve of Jenkins’ move to end the discussion between the two Republican members of the court and grabbed the gavel.

Judge Jenkins says the aggressive action surprised him. He quickly retrieved the gavel.

“That’s something that he and I will visit about. But the important thing is that we got back onto the issues, and that it did not devolve into personal attacks.  We’ve got to remain focused on the issues and not the personalities here.”

Commissioner Maurine Dickey, a frequent verbal sparring partner of John Wiley Price, says she’s not surprised by Price’s action.

“This is a very difficult time in Dallas County. And I think we’re all trying to handle it.  The Judge obviously was trying to handle it with decorum and to keep the peace in the court.”

Dickey says she wasn’t trying to make anyone defensive in her line of questioning that rankled her colleague Mike Cantrell.  Commissioner Price declined to comment on the gavel-grab.  He is the target of a federal investigation and has avoided public comment since an FBI affidavit alleging bribery, money laundering, and bankruptcy fraud was made public about month ago.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.