Tribune-Courier General Manager
Marshall County Fiscal Court last week voted to contact Louisville attorney Kent Wicker to conduct an investigation involving an ethics complaint against Judge-Executive Mike Miller.
On June 14 commissioners had directed county attorney Jeff Edwards to recommend three or four possible attorneys, asking that he seek someone at least 50 miles away and unfamiliar with members of the court or the situation.
Edwards reported he had contacted three attorneys who met that criteria, but only one who was interested in taking the case. He was identified as Jason Holland of Hopkinsville.
Focus shifted to Wicker, however, after commissioner Terry Anderson brought his name before the court.
Anderson told the court he had located Wicker during a search of the Internet.
“I looked at him and found him on the Internet and from the looks of his credentials I think he is exactly what we are looking for,” Anderson said. “He’s a courtroom attorney and has a great deal of experience in dealing with these kinds of matters and I think none of us knows him.”
Anderson made a motion to hire Wicker, but when commissioner Bob Gold expressed concerns about not knowing what Wicker’s fees might be, Anderson amended his motion to reflect hiring him pending receiving a quote for his services.
“We are signing a blank check if we just hire someone,” said Gold.
Wicker’s website identifies him as a Harvard-educated courtroom attorney, with expertise in “high profile and complex commercial and white collar criminal cases in Kentucky and around the country.”
Wicker also has expertise in criminal fraud and public corruption cases according to the website.
Benton attorney Marty Johnson attended last week’s fiscal court meeting as legal counsel for Miller.
“I’m not telling you how to run your business, but it looks like you should get some proposals and review those proposals after you’ve properly vetted them to be sure there are no conflicts,” he told the court.
Commissioner Misti Drew, who originally brought the allegations of ethics violations by Miller to the court, said, “At our last meeting I made a motion and the judge, who is the focus of this changed my motion so I think if we are going to talk about conflict of interest this would probably be one.”
It is unclear, however, how Drew is alleging Miller changed her motion during the June 14 special called meeting of the court. There is no record of such action in the minutes of that meeting, and Drew voted to approve the minutes as they were presented.
“I think that we are trying to handle this as a court and have been discretely for some time,” said Drew. “But now that it’s out in front of everyone we have to talk candidly. It’s been very divisive and now everybody’s hiring counsel. I’m ready to move on.”
Anderson and Drew voted in favor of a motion to hire Wicker. Gold voted against and Miller abstained on advice of his attorney.
Edwards agreed to contact Wicker to inquire as to his availability and interest in the case, as well as his fee structure.
At issue is the circumstance under which long-time Marshall County dog warden Goldenrod Kirk left the employment of the county earlier this year.
Drew said the court was informed of Kirk’s retirement, but later learned he was receiving unemployment and that a county document indicated Kirk was laid off/terminated.
“I question the ethics and legality of such and I feel I have an obligation as a county commissioner and as a taxpayer to question this action,” Drew told the court on June 14.
Miller has acknowledged signing the document and said Kirk resigned his position after learning of changes to his job duties.
Fiscal Court will reconvene to discuss the matter on July 16 at 9:30 a.m.