County votes to pay legal fees for two county employees

Published 9:52 pm Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Decatur County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to pay legal fees to Harrell & Lewis, LLC for representing former county employee Rachel Trolinger.

The legal expense for Trolinger’s attorney, Jami Lewis, amounts to a flat fee of $5,000.

In addition, Decatur County Attorney Brown Moseley presented the board with another request to pay for the legal fees of an employee of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office. The employee has been accused of sexual assault against an inmate.

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“Given the dollars we have been talking about tonight and dealing with, I suggested to (Sheriff Wiley Griffin) that if he had no objection, and with the permission of the commission, rather than going out and hire a lawyer, I think I could properly represent this defendant as far as his presentation before a grand jury,” Moseley said.

The board unanimously voted for Moseley to represent the employee.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released warrants Sept. 15 for Trolinger, who is accused of forgery in the first degree. Trolinger, formerly an administrative assistant at the DCSO, allegedly committed the crime while performing the duties of her job on Sept. 30, 2013.

“Looking at the facts in this case, they cannot be distinguished from the other case which the county has elected to pay attorneys fees,” said in reference to the board’s decision to pay for the legal fees of two indicted county deputies.

After voting on the motion, commissioner Russell Smith said he believed the resolution in which the board’s decision was based on “has opened a Pandora’s Box,” and made a motion to rescind the resolution.

“If we keep it like it is, we’re going to break the county even more so,” Smith said. “I think we either need to rescind the resolution or make some amendments to it.”

Smith’s motion died for lack of a second.

The resolution, passed Aug. 26, states Decatur County, “in it’s discretion,” will undertake the expenses to defend Decatur County employees in civil, criminal or quasi criminal actions arising from the duties of their job.

“The next case might not be apples to apples,” commissioner Dennis Brinson said. “It might be apples to oranges, or apples to tangerines. In hindsight, I think we have gotten ourselves in a situation where we’ve set a precedent we can’t really hold up.”