Rockwall County News Publisher and Owner Wesley Burnett filed a petition against the city of Heath for putting their legal notices in the Dallas Morning News according to an article printed in the July 6 edition of the Rockwall County News.
“We have reluctantly filed this petition with the court for the purpose of holding elected and appointed government officials accountable to the law,” Burnett said in the article.
Media law attorney Don Richards is representing the Rockwall County News in the case.
“It is sad that the Rockwall County News has had to take this action when such a clear state statute governs the required action by the City of Heath,” he said in the county news article.
According to Title 10 of the General Government Code, government bodies such as municipalities, school boards and counties are required to publish notices in a local newspaper. Section 2051.044 of that code state that newspapers have to fit four criteria in order to print legal notices. The paper must devote not less than 25 percent of its total column lineage to non-advertising content, it must be published at least one a week, it must be entered as second-class postal matter in the county where published and must be published regularly and continually for at least 12 months before the governmental entity or representative publishes the notice.
Richards alleges in the article that the discrepancy falls under the Dallas Morning News not having its second class postage in Rockwall County.
Legal Advertising Representative for the Dallas Morning News Lynda Black said the Dallas Morning News’ current periodical permit for Rockwall has lapsed, but they are looking into renewing it.
Heath Mayor Lorne Liechty released the following statement regarding the city’s decision.
“The City of Heath does not comment on ongoing litigation, and therefore I will not comment on the merits of the reported case. I will point out, however, that the selection of the City’s official newspaper was discussed in open Council meetings and that the reasons for our City’s selection of The Dallas Morning News rather than the Rockwall County News have been explained to our citizens in our City of Heath Newsletter and have been explained to the Rockwall County News.”
Burnett claimed in the Rockwall County News article that the Rockwall County News is the only paper qualified to receive legal notices in Rockwall County.
“We tried to resolve this matter without litigation, however, after several years of failed communication, we filed this petition in defense of the law,” Burnett said in the county news’ article.
Burnett did not return phone calls to the Herald-Banner before press time.