from Conecuh Circuit Court (CV-17-900024)
case concerns the dismissal of a municipal employee. The City
of Evergreen ("the City") terminated the employment
of Helen Wiggins, a warrant clerk and magistrate, after the
Evergreen City Council ("the Council") accepted the
recommendation of the City's mayor that she be dismissed
for dereliction of duty. Wiggins thereafter filed a
wrongful-termination action against the City in the Conecuh
Circuit Court. The trial court ultimately entered a judgment
in favor of the City and against Wiggins. She now appeals
that judgment. We affirm.
and Procedural History
February 15, 2017, Cynthia Salter, the manager of a Chevron
gasoline service station in Evergreen, was reviewing
surveillance videos when she discovered that one of her
employees and that employee's husband had stolen money
from the business. Salter promptly terminated the employment
of the employee shown in the video and notified the police of
the theft. Police officers were dispatched to the business,
and, after they prepared a written report, they instructed
Salter to obtain arrest warrants at the City's municipal
building ("city hall"). The police officers told
Salter that, once she obtained those warrants, they would
arrest the former employee and her husband.
approximately 9:15 a.m. the following day, Salter went to
city hall to obtain the warrants the police had told her she
needed. Wiggins, one of two warrant clerks and magistrates
employed by the City, was on duty at the time.After Salter
explained why she was there, Wiggins told her that she would
have to return at approximately 11:30 a.m. when Barbara
Ashley-Kemp, the other warrant clerk and magistrate, would be
on duty. At a subsequent hearing conducted by the Council,
Salter testified that Wiggins gave her no explanation for not
issuing the warrants.
Ashley-Kemp reported for work at approximately 12:00 p.m.,
Salter was waiting for her. Ashley-Kemp promptly issued the
warrants Salter needed because, Ashley-Kemp later testified,
"I thought she had probable cause." Ashley-Kemp
described her encounter with Salter as "a completely
routine issuance of a warrant." Ashley-Kemp further
testified that when one warrant clerk was not present in the
office the other warrant clerk was responsible for issuing
stated that, after she obtained the warrants, she left the
magistrate's office and was confronted by the two
individuals who were the subjects of the warrants. Salter
stated that they offered her money not to seek warrants for
their arrests, but she told them that the warrants had
already been issued and they did not escalate the matter.
When questioned by Wiggins's attorney at the hearing
before the Council, Salter explained why she objected to
Wiggins's failure to issue the warrants when they were
"Q. So why was this upsetting to you that you didn't
get the warrant [on your first trip] --I mean you got the
"Q. You just had to come back when [Wiggins] had her
assistant there, why is this upsetting to you?
"A. What do you mean why is it upsetting? Well, for the
simple fact that at 11:30 when I was doing it with
[Ashley-Kemp], the person that I accused of stealing, the
husband, he was trying to get back there to the office.
Therefore I was afraid, I didn't know what I was going to
be confronted with.
"Q. You understand Helen Wiggins has no control over
"Q. And when you did receive the warrant at 11:30 --
"Q. -- you don't have any complaint that it was
issued by her assistant warrant clerk as opposed to ...