By Leeann Akers - Managing Editor
Nov. 28, 2012 —
A lawsuit against the Carter County Fiscal Court filed by a citizen and the county attorney will be heard in Carter Circuit Court on Thursday at 9 a.m.
Renee Stewart and Carter County Attorney Patrick Flannery filed suit on July 27 in response to an opinion of the Attorney General’s office which stated that the AG could not determine if the May 29 meeting of Carter Fiscal Court violated the Kentucky Open Meetings Act.
Circuit Judge John David Preston of Lawrence, Johnson, and Martin counties has been appointed to serve as special judge in the case.
Stewart is represented by attorney Sebastian Joy of Ashland.
During the meeting in question, Fiscal Court narrowly approved the first reading of two ordinances to establish the Northeastern Regional Jail Authority (NRJA) with Boyd County.
The suit asks the Circuit Court to affirm that the Fiscal Court is a public agency, and thus beholden to KRS 61.820 and KRS 61.840, the statutes that govern open meetings laws.
The lawsuit alleges that Fiscal Court willfully violated these statues when it refused to move the May 29 special meeting to a larger location, even after Flannery informed that court that doing so was necessary under the law.
The overflow crowd at the meeting was so large that one of the benches in the rear of the court’s regular meeting collapsed under the weight of spectators trying to jostle their way into earshot of the proceedings.
A ruling against the Fiscal Court would mean that the first reading of the jail ordinances would be void.
The plaintiffs also are seeking court costs, attorney's fees, and all statutory damages that KRS 61.882 will allow.
Franklin Circuit Court will hear arguments on Monday, Dec. 17, at 10 a.m. on another lawsuit concerning the NRJA.
The Kentucky Jailers Association filed suit Aug. 7 to contend that the NRJA agreement, if approved, would strip statutory oversight of the Boyd and Carter jails from their elected jailers, Boggs in Carter and Joe Burchett in Boyd, by putting the oversight of those jails under one authority.
The KJA argues that the NRJA violates the “statutory framework” for a regional jail authority, which was created by the General Assembly in 1994.
And that the duties of the jailers, established by statute and by the state constitution, are “unlawfully impeded” by the proposed authority.
The suit seeks a declaration of the plaintiffs’ rights, along with a final judgment incorporating those rights, plus all other relief to which the plaintiffs may be entitled.
Leeann Akers can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 474-5101.