Further arguments heard in case involving fiscal court

Published 5:30 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

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As many in Winchester have come to know, Clark County Judge-Executive Les Yates sued fellow members of the Clark County Fiscal Court as well as the Clark County Public Library Board of Trustees in August 2023. 

With the case ongoing, both sides met in the Clark County Circuit Court Room on the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 23. and presented their case before Judge Kristin J. Clouse of the 25th District. 

“Nothing was [officially decided]. The Judge has taken it under advisement and she will issue a written opinion,” said Dodd Dixon, who represents the Clark County Public Library Board.

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 Clark County Attorney William Elkins represents the Clark County Fiscal Court. 

“We’re happy with how things went. We look forward to the court’s decision,” stated attorney Amy Cubbage of the law firm Tachau Meek, who represents Judge Yates. 

In legal terms, the CCPL and Fiscal Court act as defendants, while Judge Yates serves as the plaintiff. 

During the first hearing in January, a motion by the defendants to dismiss the case was turned down, as was a motion for injunctive relief by the plaintiff. 

As a result, while the case continued, Thacker has since been allowed to continue her duties as a Board member. 

With the lawsuit, Yates alleged that the Clark County Fiscal Court violated provisions of Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 173.4902 (2) when voting to appoint Carlye Thacker – who has since been sworn in – to fill a vacated seat on the Board. 

The suit stated that KRS 173.730 (2) details a clear procedure for filling a vacancy on the library board and that the county judge is to nominate two individuals, with approval from the Fiscal Court, on recommendation from the state librarian and commissioner of archives unless the Court has adopted an “alternative appointment process”. 

According to the suit, no such process has been adopted. 

Near the end of February 2023, the acting state librarian and commissioner of archives recommended two nominees to Yates, one being Thacker. 

Approximately one month later, the lawsuit states that Yates was informed by the state librarian that an error had been made and that February’s nominees were withdrawn. 

Yates then recommended one Winchester resident, Tiffany Hays, to fill the vacancy during an April 12 Fiscal Court meeting – but it was rejected. 

On April 14, Yates emailed the acting state librarian and commissioner saying that Hay’s nomination had been rejected and, although he received an email that the two would be in contact regarding next steps, never received any follow up information. 

On July 12, the fiscal court nominated and voted in the majority to confirm Thacker’s appointment. 

According to Dixon, KRS 67.710 (9) allows the Clark County Fiscal Court to take action. 

“What we’re saying is that [KRS 173.730 (2)] needs to be read in harmony with KRS 67,” he said. “After a certain time, if the County Judge fails to act, then the Fiscal Court can actually act.” 

According to KRS 67.710 (9), that given amount of time is 60 days. 

However, in the lawsuit presented by Yates, such action is deemed extralegal – or not regulated by law – because KRS 173.730 (2) deems that no nominee may be approved unless the state librarian, commissioner of archives and county judge submit the nominees. 

“Part two [of KRS 173.730 (2)] says that to be a qualified nominee, you have to be nominated by the state librarian at KDLA and the person that they appointed simply did not receive that nomination, ” Cubbage added. “Whether the time had run out or not, they appointed someone who is not properly qualified under the state and our argument is simple as that.” 

Briefs, or written arguments, have been filed by both parties and submitted to the court.