A dispute that was seemingly resolved between Jeffersonville’s City Clerk and City Court Judge is picking up new life in the form of a fresh lawsuit and some harsh words.
City Court Judge Ken Pierce on Monday addressed the Jeffersonville City Council about its request to conduct a third-party audit of his court’s finances before the duties of the office are handed over to the city clerk.
As part of the city’s transition from a third-class to a second-class city, the clerk’s office is supposed to collect fines, fees and maintain records for the court. However, a dispute existed about which office would control the Probationary User Fee, or PUF funds, and where court funds would be collected.
An agreement was reached earlier this month to allow city court to keep managing the PUF funds and to have a clerk’s employee work out of the court office, but in a separate space.
But Pierce made it clear for the council on Monday that he isn’t happy with the way the situation is being handled, alleging that the court’s entire collection of ledgers containing financial records had been taken from his office without knowledge from him or his staff — an act Pierce called “unethical” and “reprehensible.”
Pierce subsequently filed a new lawsuit in Clark County Circuit Court No. 1 on Tuesday in an effort to recover the court’s documents.
According to Pierce, upon returning from a Dec. 4 meeting he had with several council members, their attorney Scott Lewis, City Clerk Vicki Conlin and her attorney, Larry Wilder, he discovered his court’s financial records were missing from his office.
“Immediately after that meeting I came down here to my office ... and was informed by my staff that my 2012 financial records were missing; my entire 2012 records for probation department and court department,” Pierce told the council Monday.
He said his staff said they had no knowledge of where the ledgers went, so he contacted the Jeffersonville Police Department detectives about the missing records and filed a police report.
Pierce said he then contacted City Controller Monica Harmon, who said she received the records on Dec. 4 from Conlin.
When contacted by the News and Tribune Harmon did not deny she had the records, but said she would not comment on pending litigation.
“Since we’ve made this the principal’s office, I’m going to come before you with these issues,” Pierce said to the council. “I can no longer trust the authenticity of these documents and since the very beginning my integrity was questioned on the handling of these books, so much so we need a third-party audit.”
Pierce furthermore informed the council he sent a letter to the State Board of Accounts wanting to know how to proceed and asked for an investigation.