Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

October 10, 2012

Fiscal Courts agree to injunction

By Leeann Akers - Managing Editor
Journal-Times

Oct. 10, 2012 —     Judge-executives in Boyd and Carter counties agreed last week to a temporary injunction in the lawsuit filed by the Kentucky Jailers Association to block formation of the Northeast Regional Jail Alliance (NRJA).

    A motion for a temporary injunction was filed in Franklin Circuit Court, and was set to be heard last Wednesday.

    The request asked that the Kentucky Department for Local Government (DLG) be barred from taking action on an inter-local agreement between Boyd and Carter counties until the case has been heard in Franklin Circuit Court.  

    The motion was not heard last week and the agreed order was filed in Franklin Circuit Court on Monday.

    According to the agreement, if the inter-local agreement concerning the KJA is approved by DLG or if the DLG does nothing and the jail agreement is considered approved, then neither the two Fiscal Courts, nor someone acting on their behalf, could file the agreement with the county clerks and the Secretary of State.  

    This injunction effectively bars the creation of the NRJA until after the case is heard in Circuit Court, deeming the inter-local agreement inoperative.

    “Think of the case as a train,” said Scott White, attorney for the Boyd and Carter fiscal courts. “The parties have agreed to pull into the station to allow the conductor to tell us which track to follow. By doing this agreement, we can get an answer to the question pretty quickly. This is a good and cautious use of resources.”

    KJA Attorney Jim Deckard said if either Fiscal Court takes action on the inter-local agreement, they could face contempt of court.  

    “All the citizens of Carter County have wanted since this misguided scheme was hatched is some transparency from their government,” Deckard said. “It’s the logical result that we asked them to consider weeks ago and I commend their lawyer for finally being able to get through to them.”

    Franklin Circuit Court will hear arguments on the on Monday, Dec. 17, at 10 a.m.

    The KJA argues that the agreement, if approved, would strip statutory oversight of the Boyd and Carter jails from their elected jailers, R.W. Boggs in Carter and Joe Burchett in Boyd, merging the oversight of those jails under one authority.

    According to the motion, the DLG is in agreement with the KJA, and believes that the question of the validity of the agreement should be determined in Franklin Circuit Court.

    Deckard 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 authority.

    Further, that the Carter Fiscal Court’s approval of the enabling legislation for the authority is invalid because the May 29 meeting at which first readings of the two measures were approved was held in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Act.

    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.

    The part of the case which addresses the May 29 special meeting also is part of a case in Carter Circuit Court.

    Renee Stewart, represented by attorney Sebastian Joy, and Carter County Attorney Patrick Flannery filed a suit in response to an opinion of the Attorney General’s office which stated that the AG could not determine if the May 29 meeting violated the Open Meetings Act.

    The case was slated to be heard in Carter Circuit Court on Sept. 25, but Judge Rebecca Phillips recused herself on Sept. 21.

    Circuit Judge John David Preston of Lawrence, Johnson, and Martin counties has been appointed to the case.

    A status hearing will be held in Johnson Circuit Court on Friday, Nov. 2, at 9 a.m.

    Leeann Akers can be reached at lakers@journal-times.com or by phone at 474-5101.