Monday, April 25, 2011

Court Rules County Must Pay Election Expenses

A special judge hearing a lawsuit over whether the state or the county should be responsible for the legal expenses of the Putnam County Election Commission has ruled that those expenses are, in fact, the county's responsibility. County Attorney Jeff Jones had argued that the county was not responsible for the expenses, in part because members of the county election commission are agents of the state of Tennessee. But Judge Donald Harris disagreed. He said that it was his opinion that "a suit against the county election commission or its members in their official capacity, involving the hiring or firing of the administrator of elections is part of the operations of the county election commission." And, he says, that while he does not disagree that election commissioners are, effectively, state employees, their status as such does not exempt the county from having responsibility for their legal representation. The judge directed that an order be prepared "requiring Kim Blaylock in her official capacity as County Executive of Putnam County and Putnam County to cover the court costs and legal expenses" of the Chancery Court action; and "to pay the legal expenses that have been incurred and will be incurred in representing members of the Putnam County Election Commission" in the still-pending federal lawsuit filed by former administrator Nancy Boman.