Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

December 7, 2012

Fiscal Court retains outside counsel, questions jail finances

By Leeann Akers - Managing Editor
Journal-Times

Dec. 7, 2012 — The Carter County Fiscal Court met in Special session early Friday morning.

The Court easily passed claims, which Treasure Beth Justice said was “flow through monies.”  Also the court approved financing through BBT bank in Charleston for a new SUV for the Sheriff’s Department.  The cost to the county is $27,000 and the bank is offering a 1.5 percent interest rate on the loan.

Also on the agenda was “legal services” which was, and still is, shrouded in confusion. 

Judge executive Charles Wallace asked the Court to approve a motion “to get legal services,” which was then made by Magistrate Clifford “Sodbuster” Roe. 

“Since our attorney (County Attorney Patrick Flannery) has sued us, and we have that issue coming up down there with the city trying to take our land, we need someone who will represent us,” Roe said. “Patrick has a conflict of interest and we need another attorney.  When you sue your own clients, there is something bad wrong.”

Flannery was a plaintiff in which it was alleged that the Court had violated the Open Meetings Act, which was heard in Carter Circuit Court Nov. 29.

“The issue with the Open Meeting Violation allegations has been resolved,” Magistrate Brad Brammell argued.  “I don’t have a problem with Patrick.”

Roe said he does have an issue with Flannery.

When asked for a clarification of the motion, Wallace said that the measure was “just in case” the Court needed an outside attorney for representation.

“This is so we don’t have to vote on it every time,” Wallace said.

There was some question as to what Flannery’s capacity as County Attorney would be if the Court hired outside legal counsel.

According to KRS 69.210, the County Attorney “… shall institute, defend, and conduct all civil actions in which the county or consolidated local government is interested before any of the courts of the Commonwealth.”

When asked what the cost for a retainer fee would be, Wallace said it would be “the going rate.”  Although not part of the motion, it was discussed that Richard “Sonny” Martin, who represented the Court in the Open Meetings suit, would be the lawyer used.

Martin was paid $1,500 by the Fiscal Court during the Nov. 20 meeting. 

Magistrate Sonny Fankell seconded Roe’s motion.  Brammell and Burton voted against the measure.  With the late Ronnie Greenhill’s seat still empty, Wallace broke the tie and the motion passed.

Former magistrate Millard Cordell then asked to be recognized and chastised the Court for the motion.

“You all are going over the head of an elected official,” Cordell said. “The tax payers of this county had to spend money on legal services they didn’t need to once already.  Judge, you’re just paying that FIVECO lawyer for no reason. This is a political move.”

Wallace said that Flannery suing the Court was a political witch hunt and the meeting was quickly concluded. 

Assistant County Attorney John Thompson sat in for Flannery at the meeting.  Flannery said he was not given proper notification of the special meeting, and had to attend depositions at that time.

“I won’t apologize for standing up for the people of Carter County if their rights are being violated,” Flannery said.  “The Court can not remove me as County Attorney, but if they want to hire outside legal counsel then they have the right to do that."

The Court had some discussion on the transfer of $25,000 from the general fund to the jail.  According to Justice, the Federal Marshals are four months behind on payments to the County.  Jailer R.W. Boggs said he expected the payment to come in next week.

Magistrate Clifford “Sodbuster” Roe requested copies of the invoices and the amount that is supposed to be coming in to pay for the Federal Prisoners’ housing.  He asked if an increase of the daily rate for the Federal inmates had been applied for.

“I called and they said no money had been approved,” Roe said.  “This thing with the money has gone far enough.”

Boggs shared an email from the U.S. Department of Justice which confirmed that the rate increase application was under review.

Magistrate Brad Brammell made a motion to transfer the funds, Brandon Burton seconded, and the motion passed.