Board of Commissioners presented with revision to county personel defense resolution

Published 9:58 pm Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Decatur County attorney Brown Moseley presented the Board of Commissioners Tuesday with a revision of the resolution for defense of county personnel originally passed in August.

“At the time we did it for what I think are good reasons,” Moseley said in reference to the original resolution, which has now allowed for the county to cover four different legal expenses of county employees who were criminally charged. “Shortly after that we ran into some unintended consequences in dealing with that resolution and there were some comments about tightening it up.”

The updated resolution lists exclusions the county can rely on when asked to provide legal defense to an employee as well as a procedure for criminally charged employees to follow if they wish to request defense.

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The county will not be obligated to provide defense if certain circumstances are shown in the case. These circumstances include whether the employee was under the influences of alcohol or drugs to the extent that his/her judgment was impaired, whether the employer acted or failed to act in willful disregard of county policy or specific instructions of the employee’s supervisor or the defense of the claim or proceeding would not be in the best intent of the county.

The procedure portion of the updated resolution outlines the steps and requirements a Decatur County employee, official or officer would need to comply with to have legal expenses paid for by the county.

These requirements include a warrant, indictment or citation being supplied to the Decatur County administrator as soon as possible, as well as a written report detailing the incident in question.

Additionally, a written application will need to be submitted from the criminally charged employee. If the employee is denied the appointment of a public defender, after proper application, they may send a written request for the county to provide a defense to their charges.

The updated resolution also states the governing authority of the county, in it’s discretion, may reimburse the county official, officer or employee for legal fees in connection with the charges in the event that the charges are dismissed, or if the charged person is found not guilty. However, if they are found guilty, the county will be under no obligation to provide or reimburse the individual for any legal fees in the connection with the adjudicated charges.

“I think it plugs up some of the concerns we had,” Moseley said.

The board will vote whether to implement or expand upon the updated resolution at their next meeting on Dec. 9.