Judge: County atty. joins officer, magistrate case

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The county attorney is now officially part of a case to decide whether a city police officer can serve simultaneously as a county magistrate.

In a ruling filed last week, Clark Circuit Judge Brandy Oliver Brown granted Clark County Attorney William Elkins’ motion to intervene in the case. Attorneys for Elkins, the City of Winchester and Travis Thompson argued the matter before Brown on April 18.

Thompson is a Winchester Police officer and also magistrate for the second district of Clark County. Elkins said Thompson’s oath as magistrate supersedes the oath he took as a police officer in September 2018, and that he does not have the authority to make arrests. Elkins also said Thompson is holding a city office and a county office, which is prohibited by state law.

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Attorneys for Thompson and the city maintain Thompson is an employee of the city, rather than an appointed or elected officer, and he is not violating the statute.

Thompson filed a petition in March against the city, asking the judge to rule whether one person can serve simultaneously in both positions. Brown’s order now adds Elkins to the case as a party.

A number of other motions are still pending which hinged on whether Elkins was added to the case or not. A court date has not been set for Brown to hear those motions.

In her one-page order, Brown said Kentucky’s courts use the rule about allowing people to intervene in cases liberally, and also cited applicable law and the April 18 arguments.

“We’re disappointed she allowed him in,” Thompson’s attorney Brian Thomas said. “Though the order was very brief, she was clear on having all sides represented. I think it would possibly prevent any future issues in the case.”

During that hearing, Elkins’ attorney Rob Johnson said the situation affects’ Elkins ability to act as prosecutor for the county in district court as well as the county’s legal advisor.

Winchester City Attorney Bill Dykeman said previously the city received opinions from the Kentucky Attorney General’s office as well as the Kentucky League of Cities. Both entities said there was no conflict between the two positions. Thompson was hired by the city in August 2018, a little more than two months before the election.

Elkins and Dykeman were out of their offices Tuesday afternoon and did not return messages by press time.

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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