By an order dated August 29, 2016, Jefferson County, Kentucky, Circuit Court Judge Ann Bailey Smith granted the motion of Thomas Fox for Partial Summary Judgment in an Open Records Act lawsuit he had filed in November, 2015 against the City of West Buechel, Kentucky. This Judgment ordered City officials to allow Fox to inspect certain specified banking records and other documents.
This leaves some $328,000 unaccounted for.
Marti Sitz was Clerk/Treasurer for the City of West Buechel from 2013 to November, 2014, when she was terminated by former Mayor Sharon Fowler for undisclosed reasons. When Rick Richards became Mayor in 2015, he re-hired Ms. Sitz as Assistant City Clerk under Clerk/Treasurer Kim Richards.
Marty Sitz was arrested Wednesday, June 29, 2016, at West Buechel City Hall. West Buechel Police officers made the arrest and transported Ms. Sitz to Louisville Metro Corrections where she was booked in with two charges of Theft by Deception for more than $10,000.
The exact nature of the alleged crime is unknown at this time.
The Kentucky Supreme Court is the ultimate authority over lawyers. Practicing lawyers are officers of the court and they are governed by the Supreme Court’s Rules of Professional Conduct.
Briefly, here are the high points.
Kentucky Rules of Professional Conduct – SCR 3.130
Rule 1.1 Competence
A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.
Rule 1.2 Scope of representation and allocation of authority
A lawyer must honor a client’s decision on the settlement of a civil action or resolution of a criminal proceeding, including whether the client will testify.
A lawyer shall not counsel or assist a client in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent,
Rule 1.3 Diligence
A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.
Rule 1.4 Communication
- A lawyer shall promptly inform the client of any circumstance which requires the client’s informed consent.
- A lawyer shall reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished;
- A lawyer shall keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;
- A lawyer shall promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and
- A lawyer shall clearly inform the client when the lawyer cannot do for the client what the lawyer knows the client expects to be done.
- A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.
Rule 1.5 Fees
Written fee agreements are recommended, but they are not mandatory.
Rule 1.6 Confidentiality of information
A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent.
Rule 1.7 Conflict of interest: current clients
A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if:
(1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or
(2) there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the lawyer.
BUT, a lawyer may represent a client if:
(1) the lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client;
(2) the representation is not prohibited by law;
(3) the representation does not involve the assertion of a claim by one client against another client represented by the lawyer in the same litigation or other proceeding before a tribunal; and
(4) each affected client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing. The consultation shall include an explanation of the implications of the common representation and the advantages and risks involved.
Complaints against lawyers are sent to the Kentucky Bar Association for evaluation and possible investigation. The decision to discipline a lawyer is the responsibility of the Kentucky Supreme Court.
The Judicial Conduct Commission is authorized to take disciplinary action against a sitting Kentucky Judge. The Commission also has authority over trial commissioners, domestic relations commissioners, master commissioners and attorneys who are candidates for judicial office.
The Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct, SCR 4.300, outlines the basic rules of ethics and right conduct under which Kentucky judges must operate. The vast majority of Kentucky judged perform their job functions honorably and honestly, everyone makes mistakes now and then, but there may always be a rotten few. Systems are in place to detect and correct deviations from the accepted norms.
Although the Judicial Conduct Commission may investigate a judge’s performance upon its own initiative, anyone may file a written complaint that will be evaluated and investigated, as appropriate.
The form for a written complaint to the Judicial Conduct Commission may be found here: How to file a complaint.
WEST BUECHEL – MAY 10, 2016. At its regular meeting on Tuesday night, the West Buechel City Council voted upon a Resolution proposed by Council member Toby Clark. The Resolution set out fourteen specific areas of alleged misconduct by Mayor Richards and his staff to be referred to law enforcement officials for investigation and possible criminal prosecution. The six Council members split, with 3 in favor of the Resolution and 3 opposed.
Mayor Richards broke the tie by voting “no.”
City of West Buechel
City Council Resolution
Series 2016, number ___
WHEREAS: Kentucky’s Auditor of Public Accounts has recently called into question whether the citizens of West Buechel are capable of self-government or operating a City according to the Rule of Law.
WHEREAS: The current administration has repeatedly ignored and disrespected well established rules for budgeting, spending, financial reporting, personnel management, record keeping, office management, availability, responsiveness and transparency. These failures have exposed the City to expensive litigation, inconvenienced the general public and fostered an environment of mistrust, hostility and disrespect for the law.
WHEREAS: Kentucky’s Penal Code has criminalized extreme levels of Official Misconduct (KRS 522.020 & KRS 522.030) and Abuse of Public Trust (KRS 522.050) along with other offenses. The Kentucky Revised Statutes impose fines and penalties for lesser violations of certain laws regulating the duties of City official.
NOW THEREFOR BE IT RESOLVED, the following general categories of misconduct and non-compliance, without being limited thereto, shall be referred to appropriate law enforcement agencies and officers for investigation and possible criminal prosecution of the responsible parties.
- Payroll payments in excess of amounts authorized by law.
- Spending in significant excess of budgeted amounts.
- Illegal termination of employees.
- Settlement of legal claims against the City without budget authority, without proper documentation, and without Council knowledge or approval.
- Willful failure to comply with statutory procurement procedures and intentional concealment of unauthorized purchases from City Council.
- Negligent late payments that result in substantial penalties to the City and intentional misrepresentations to the Council.
- Falsifying official records to conceal job performance failures.
- Failure to comply with established City personnel policies.
- Illegal electronic eavesdropping at City Hall public areas, without notice.
- Use of City vehicles for personal purposes without complying with City policies and procedures.
- Failure to comply with City credit card use, record keeping and reporting requirements.
- Failure to comply with financial reporting requirements.
- Failure to comply with annual audit requirements.
- Failure to comply with bond and oath of office requirements.
This is not a political rant against the evils of government regulations, and it is not a defense or justification for government controls either. This is merely a recognition that government bureaucrats at all levels, from local to national, have their fingers in nearly every pie.
It is a simple undeniable fact of modern life in the United States of America: There are a lot of rules. All these rules can be a pain in the neck if you are in business, but the rules can be used to your advantage if you are just an ordinary consumer. There aren’t many professions or skilled trades that are free of government oversight.
Here is an incomplete list of occupations that Kentucky state laws have something to say about:
- Alcohol Counselors
- Applied Behavior Analysts
- Art Therapist
- Child Care Centers
- Dental Specialists
- Driver Training Instructors
- Driver Training Schools
- Drug Counselors
- Emergency Medical Services
- Funeral Directors
- HVAC Contractors
- Interpretation For The Deaf
- Land Surveyors
- Landscape Architecture
- Licensed Diabetes Educators
- Lie Detector Examiners
- Massage Therapist
- Medical Imaging
- Medical Laboratories
- Nursing Homes
- Occupational Therapists
- Ophthalmic Dispensers
- Physical Therapists
- Practical Nurses
- Private Investigators
- Professional Counselors
- Professional Engineers
- Professional Geologists
- Public Accountants
- Radiation Therapy
- Real Estate Appraisers
- Real Estate Brokers
- Real Estate Salesmen
- Registered Nurses
- Respiratory Care Practitioners
- Social Workers
- Specialists In Hearing Aids
- Speech Pathologists
Every one of these business trades and professions is regulated by a government agency in some way. Some are more tightly controlled than others, but each in its own way has a higher authority in a position to yank their leash if they misbehave.
What does this mean for you?
If someone treats you badly or unfairly, usually there is something you can do about it. The trick is to know what to complain about, how to complain and where to send it.
There are not many aspects of modern Twenty-first Century life in America that allow one to do just as you like, the way you like it and to disregard the legitimate interests of others. The rules of modern life are the laws we have made, and there are a lot of them.
There are state statutes, administrative regulations, rules, policies, inspectors, building codes, rules of professional ethics, ordinances, orders, occupational licensing, competency examinations, insurance requirements, permits, complaints, enforcement proceedings, fines and penalties.
There are police, prosecutors, arrests, courts, judges, advocates, lawyers, jailers, constables, sheriffs, process servers, bail bonds, juries, depositions, affidavits, incarceration, trials, hearings, appeals, notices, subpoenas and an occasional execution.
Someone is looking over your shoulder enforcing the rules of the game. The rules are different for private individuals living private lives and for those who engage in commercial business activity in pursuit of money. Even at that, in most locations, you still can’t dynamite a stump in your own back yard just for fun. There are rules.
The rules are there for a reason. Most of the time the rules are there for a good reason. Life works better when everyone plays by the same set of rules.
The rules are all written. There are no secret rules. Everyone has easy access to the rules. You can learn the rules.
The rules apply equally to everyone. You may have a hard time believing this, but they do. Some people, however, understand the rules better, or they can afford to pay for experts.
The better you understand the rules, the fewer problems you will have. Not playing by the rules causes problems for everyone, but mostly it causes problems for the person breaking the rules.
That’s what accountability is all about. Accountability is about knowing the rules, playing by the rules and looking out to be sure others play by the rules too.