While a judge has ruled for Daviess County’s Confederate monument to remain where it is for now, that’s only temporary until the battle over ownership is won. Regardless of that outcome, both sides in the ownership dispute plan to move it from the Daviess County Courthouse lawn.
Circuit Judge Lisa Jones issued a temporary restraining order (read it in full here) last week prohibiting Daviess County Fiscal Court from moving the statue while the lawsuit over ownership is ongoing, per request of the Kentucky Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the plaintiffs in the case.
“The statute is not going to be removed without permission of all parties involved until the litigation is resolved,” said Nicholas Goetz, attorney for the UDC.
The dispute of ownership arose because Fiscal Court previously voted to remove the statue from its current location, where it has sat for 121 years with the exception of a temporary removal in the mid 1990s for restoration and cleaning.
According to court documents, the UDC has claimed to be in ownership of the statue since 1970.
Goetz said the UDC wants to take possession of the statue and remove it from county property and find an appropriate place for it.
County Attorney Claud Porter said he is planning on using this time to get some information. Porter said because of the lack of ownership interest, Fiscal Court is looking into asking Judge Jones to dismiss the lawsuit over ownership altogether.
“I think we’ve decided to get some information from them, and probably file a motion to dismiss the claim altogether, and we’ll see what the judge does with that,” Porter said.
In Jones’ ruling, the defendants claim there is no proof of the potential for “irreparable injury” if they were to move the statue. However, Jones disagreed.
“Whether through accident or malice, the Court believes that moving the extremely heavy, extremely old and extremely controversial monument to another location pending a resolution of this case is fraught with the possibility of harm,” Jones wrote. “… The existence of an insurance policy alone is not enough to reimburse Plaintiff if it is victorious in its cause of action as the Monument is unique and, for better or worse, of historical significance.”
While Jones issued the injunction she wrote that it “changes nothing, merely preserves the status quo, as the Defendants, aside from making the decision that the Monument can no longer remain at its current location, have announced no present plans for its removal, destruction or relocation.”
While neither side has announced definitive plans on where it would go, they both said the monument will ultimately be moved.
“I think my client and the Fiscal Court have similar if not the same goals, in removing the statue from the courthouse lawn, and making sure it’s displayed in an appropriate place that’s actually open to the public,” Goetz said.