Judge rules in favor of city officer, magistrate

Published 10:15 am Monday, March 25, 2019

A judge issued a temporary restraining order Friday allowing Travis Thompson to serve as a Winchester Police officer with full authority and as a Clark County magistrate at the same time.

Thompson had been on desk duty since March 4 after Clark County Attorney William Elkins questioned whether the oath Thompson took as magistrate superseded that of an officer. Thompson had filed a petition against the City of Winchester seeking a definitive answer as to whether he could fill both roles.

Friday, Clark Circuit Judge Brandy Oliver Brown issued a temporary restraining order affirming an opinion from the Kentucky Attorney General’s office the two positions are not incompatible and Thompson can perform his duties as a patrolman for the city.

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“The opinion of the Attorney General’s office … is to be honored and followed by all elected officials” until such time as the court makes a different ruling, Brown wrote. She also said Thompson should be granted the same rights and authorities as other peace officers.

Thompson said he expects the injunction to take effect immediately.

“I’m happy I can go back to regular work in both positions,” Thompson said Friday afternoon.

Elkins said earlier this week he had dismissed a handful of cases where Thompson was the arresting officer, continued others to June and asked Thompson to file charges using complaints through Elkins’ office rather than making arrests by an unauthorized officer.

Earlier this week, Elkins filed a motion to intervene in the court proceedings between Thompson and the city. Elkins maintains a state law which prohibits a person from holding a city office and a county office simultaneously.

The Kentucky attorney general’s office, though, has maintained being a police officer is not the same as holding an appointed or elected office.

Elkins, though, cites a 1970 attorney general opinion that a city police officer is a municipal officer, which stemmed from a case involving the City of Lexington.

“Every case in which Officer Thompson makes an arrest is subject to a dismissal motion by each individual defendant in each individual case due to illegal arrest,” Elkins wrote in his motion.

Brown also said she granted the temporary restraining order because Thompson was losing income by being assigned to desk duty and was a continuing and irreparable injury. The damage would be significant, she said, because the next available motion hour is not until April 18.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@bluegrassnewsmedia.com or call 859-759-0051.

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