By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
July 10, 2013 — Former Magistrate Jeff Flaugher appeared in Carter District Court Tuesday morning for a pre-trial conference to address charges against him for disrupting a public meeting.
Judge-Executive Charles Wallace had Flaugher removed from a Fiscal Court meeting on May 7 and charged with the offense after Flaugher made a comment criticizing Wallace’s position on public participation in that meeting.
Flaugher believes the charges are personally motivated, citing previous disagreements he has had with Wallace.
“I wasn’t even talking to him when I made the comment. He’s just doing this because he doesn’t like me,” Flaugher said.
Assistant Lewis County Attorney Ben Harrison was appointed as a special prosecutor for this case, which was also heard before special Judge John R. Cox.
Typically, the local county attorney prosecutes misdemeanor cases, but because County Attorney Patrick Flannery was present in the courtroom during the alleged disruption, he could be potentially be called as a witness, which would create a conflict of interest.
This is the second public meeting disruption case that Harrison has prosecuted on behalf of the Fiscal Court, who brought similar charges against Eugene Tussey earlier this year.
“This has got to stop. People have to understand that when they come to Fiscal Court meetings, they have to act like responsible citizens,” Harrison said.
“I think it’s partially the fault of the people in attendance, and partially the fault of the Fiscal Court for allowing it to continue and not allowing these people an outlet to express their opinions,” he added.
Harrison made an offer to Flaugher for pre-trial diversion, which means that charges against him would be suspended for six months and dropped after that time period if Flaugher commits no further violations of the law.
Flaugher declined the offer. Instead, his attorney filed a motion for discovery and also indicated that a motion to dismiss the case would be forthcoming.
Under Kentucky law, disrupting meetings and processions in the second degree is a Class B Misdemeanor and carries a potential sentence of up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $250.
Joe Lewis can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 286-4201.