11 July 2006

[Part Two] My Old Kentucky Home:
Bare Knuckle Politics & The Courts
The Governor Strikes Back

Okay, when last we left our intrepid Kentucky politicians the Democratic Kentucky Attorney General had just unleashed the Kentucky Bureau of Investigation and a grand jury on the Republican Kentucky Governor. People were hired because they are Republican! Misdemeanors for everyone! To be fair, it seems a pretty open and shut case against a lot of these guys. To be cynical, the reason a long time Democrat knew where to look to find the hiring violations is because the Democratic party had been doing the same thing for so long it knew where all the nooks and crannies were.

Anyway, the Governor was having none of it. On 29 August 2005, he pardons everyone in his administration for everything the grand jury is investigating - except himself. He goes before the grand jury and pleads the 5th.

This doesn't stop the hard-charging AG. 5 days before the primary election he issues three misdemeanor indictments against the governor. Well, I guess technically the grand jury issued the indictments, but, you know, "ham sandwich", etc. etc. It also indicts 13 other members of the administration (apparently under the pretty much common sense theory that you cannot prospectively pardon).

Then begins the shoving aside of lesser entities. The County Attorney for Franklin County, the person who is supposed to try all the misdemeanors in the county, is the first guy out of the picture (probably with a huge sigh of relief). The AG's office is going to come into the district court and try this case. Despite the fact that defendants don't have to appear in person to be arraigned for misdemeanors, District Court Judge Hart opines that the governor ought to come to court to plead - out of respect for the court. The governor's attorneys then move to have the judge recuse himself for several reasons:
~ Missy McCray, a state Transportation Cabinet personnel official who is a witness for the prosecution, is a friend of Hart and his wife, Shirley Hart.

~ Shirley Hart was involved with the state employee non-classified system as an assistant director of operations for the state House.

That system involving state workers in appointed managerial roles will be a subject in the prosecution and defense of Fletcher.

~ Hart recently made statements to the media, specifically The Courier-Journal, "regarding his intentions and thought processes regarding the conduct of the arraignment of Governor Fletcher, and also expressed an opinion as to how long the trial of the matter would take, potentially affecting Governor Fletcher's rights to a speedy trial."

Hart also made "off the record" statements to other reporters Friday to which counsel for Fletcher was not privy.
The judge agrees to recuse himself, but doesn't give the governor's lawyers the satisfaction of doing it for their reasons. He does it because " [he] is acquainted with and has on several occasions associated with Doug Doerting" (the guy who filed the 276 page complaint which started all this). That's got to be a heart stopping moment when you tell the judge all these terrible reasons he shouldn't be on your case and he disagrees but informs you of an even more terrible reason which you missed entirely - there but by the grace of an honest judge (or one who doesn't want the political heat, but let's assume integrity) goes your case down the drain.

The governor's attorney enters a not guilty plea on his behalf and the court date is set for November 8, 2006 - the day after the election.

And thus the stage is set for further adventures which will be discussed in tomorrow's post.

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