Appeals court denies emergency ruling in Thompson case

Published 10:00 am Friday, July 19, 2019

A state appeals judge denied an emergency motion seeking to revoke an injunction allowing a county magistrate to continue working as a city police officer.

Last week, Clark County Attorney William Elkins and his attorney appealed a decision issuing a temporary injunction to allow Travis Thompson to continue working as a Winchester Police officer while the case continues.

Elkins has maintained that Thompson working as a city police officer and serving as an elected county magistrate violates state law and his oath as an officer is superseded by the oath he took to become a magistrate.

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The ruling issued Tuesday by Judge Jonathan R. Spalding denied Elkins’ motion for emergency relief, finding there was no irreparable harm to Elkins or his office by the injunction, as issued by Clark Circuit Judge Brandy Oliver Brown in June.

A separate motion, filed on Elkins’ behalf, seeking dismissal of the injunction itself, will be heard by a three-judge panel at a later date, Spalding wrote.

In June, Brown converted a temporary restraining order into a temporary injunction authorizing Thompson to continue working as a police officer with full arrest powers.

Elkins and his attorney Rob Johnson argued Brown’s granting the injunction was improper, because Thompson and his attorney did not specifically request the injunction and Thompson is acting against the law.

Thompson’s attorney Brian Thomas, in his response to the emergency motion, said Elkins and Johnson had not demonstrated any “extraordinary cause” or irreparable harm would be done by the injunction.

“In fact, (Elkins) has not even shown that what Mr. Thompson is doing in performing his services to the public is not authorized,” Thomas wrote.

Elkins has said Thompson’s oath to be an officer became void when he was sworn in to be a magistrate in January, and that all subsequent arrests are unlawful. Elkins has also argued Thompson working for the City of Winchester would influence how he votes as a county magistrate, especially on joint ventures between the city and county.

The case started in March between Thompson and the City of Winchester seeking a judge’s ruling on whether the position of being a city police officer is incompatible with being an elected county magistrate. Elkins was later allowed to join the case as an intervening party with an interest in the matter.

Elkins has also cited state law which prevents a person from holding a municipal office and a county office at the same time. The city, referencing two letters from the Kentucky Attorney General’s office and the Kentucky League of Cities, claims a police officer is a hired position with supervisors rather than an appointed position.

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 or call 859-759-0051.

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