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December 12, 2012

Lawsuit likely avoided between Jeffersonville judge, city clerk

Court and Clerk reach an agreement

JEFFERSONVILLE — A potential lawsuit will likely be avoided between Jeffersonville’s City Clerk and City Court Judge.

Judge Ken Pierce said he and Clerk Vicki Conlin had a productive meeting Tuesday afternoon to resolve issues that had prompted the threat of litigation.

A dispute between the two city offices persisted following the city’s move from a third-class to a second-class city. Conlin believed the clerk’s office should take over the collecting of fines, fees and maintaining records as outlined in state statute for a second-class city.

While Pierce agreed, a dispute remained over which office would control Probationary User Fee, or PUF funds.

Pierce wanted to retain control of the court’s PUF funds and did not want to allow a clerk’s office employee to work in the court office to collect and manage the PUF money.

He said Tuesday, an agreement that would allow city court to keep managing PUF funding was reached, and that while a clerk’s employee will work out of the court, it will be in a separate space.

“Essentially, I did not want someone else taking money around my staff,” Pierce said. “What we’ve done, Ms. Conlin through one of her employees, will collect the money in a separate space.”

He said the two entities are going to work out a way to find a separate area in the court office.

“Hopefully, the public won’t notice a difference,” he said.

Other changes will include moving two employees from the city court office into the clerk’s office. The move will leave the city court with a bailiff, a secretary and two probation officers.

“I think it’s a starting point,” Conlin said of the agreement on Wednesday.

She added that City Council Attorney Scott Lewis and Corporation Attorney Tom Lowe are drafting an agreement to spell out the duties and terms of the arrangement.

Pierce said he was pleased a resolution was reached and added “if it drug out it would be bad for everyone.”

He also thanked the city council and mayor for their cooperation in helping the city offices reach an agreement.

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