By Leeann Akers - Editor
Nov. 8, 2013 — In an order handed down Wednesday, Chief Judge Glen Acree (Lexington), Judge Denise Clayton (Louisville), and Judge Jeff Taylor (Owensboro), of the Court of Appeals, granted an injunction concerning the Northeast Regional Jail Authority.
According to the order, the Kentucky Jailers' Association presented a substantial question as to the extent of the fiscal court's authority to alter the duties of a constitutionally elected official. Pending the appeal hearing, no part of the NRJA can move forward.
The next step in the appeals process is the prehearing conference, with the lawyers for all sides and a senior lawyer for the Court of Appeals. The group will examine whether there is any chance for resolution by agreement.
If the prehearing conference doesn’t resolve the case, then the Franklin Circuit Clerk certifies the court records and sends it to the Clerk of the Court of Appeals.
The two sides will have approxmiately 135 days to file briefs with the Court of Appeals, which will then set a date for oral arguments.
Boyd and Carter fiscal courts entered into an agreement in the spring of 2012 to operate the jails in the two counties under a single authority headquartered in Catlettsburg, which led to the lawsuit.
Both parties agreed to the injunction before the case was heard, which barred the two fiscal courts from filing a copy of the interlocal agreement establishing the NRJA with the secretary of state and the county clerks of both counties.
Judge Phillip Shephard, who ruled in favor of the NRJA, filed a temporary injunction in June which extended the injunction to allow the same motion to be presented to the appealiate court.
Proponents of the NRJA, including Boyd Judge-Executive Williams “Bud” Stevens and Carter Judge-Executive Charles Wallace, both maintain such an arrangement would promote efficiency and help both counties bring their spiraling jail costs under control.
Opponents, however, argued the move was a political play aimed at stripping power from jailers R.W. Boggs and Joe Burchett, both of whom have frequently found themselves at odds with their fiscal courts.
The interlocal agreement states the NJRA will commence operation when a governing board is appointed by Stevens and Wallace, a budget is prepared and approved by both fiscal courts and an agreement is reached between the NJRA and the counties on the use of respective jails in each county.