News and Tribune

March 12, 2014

Two years later, New Albany lawyer, judge candidate pays court fine on alcohol charge

Richard Rush claims his obligation to pay fee ‘fell off the radar’

By GARY POPP
gary.popp@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — A New Albany lawyer who is a Floyd County judge candidate paid a fine for an alcohol-related offense Tuesday — more than two years after he was scheduled to settle with the court.

Richard Rush, candidate for Floyd County Superior Court No. 2 Judge, paid the $664 fee owed to Jeffersonville City Court stemming from a guilty plea in 2011 to the criminal charge.  

According to court records, Jeffersonville City Court Judge Ken Pierce gave Rush a pay date of April 13, 2012, but that balance was never paid.

Rush, New Albany, said his obligation to the court “fell off the radar,” after he was told by his attorney Brad Jacobs not to make a payment, as an attempt was being made at the time to have the fee waived.

“I hired Brad Jacobs to represent me, and, so, even though I am an attorney, when I have something going on and an attorney working for me, I am going to do what my attorney tells me to do,” Rush said, adding that he was under the impression Jacobs was going to have, at least, a portion of the fee waived. “It has been a long time ago. My memory fades of our exact conversation, but he told me to hold off on paying it. He was going to see if he could get it [the fee] waived.”

Rush said nearly two years passed before he received a call from Jacobs on the matter earlier this week.

Jacobs said he was contacted Monday by officials from the city’s court or the clerk’s office — he was unsure which — only after the News and Tribune had inquired to the court staff about Rush’s unpaid balance and the lack of an issuance of an arrest warrant to obtain the fee.

Before the final pay date, Jacobs said Pierce refused a request to waive the fee, but in subsequent efforts to minimize the balance, the case somehow deviated from the standard path.

Pierce declined to provide comment, but it appears Jeffersonville City Court lost track of the case, and no warrant was issued for Rush’s arrest when the pay date came and went without payment.

Records show that Rush has been given two pay dates, in October and November 2011, to settle the $664 fee. Rush failed to appear for the November pay date, and Pierce issued a warrant for his arrest.

More than two months later in January 2012, Pierce withdrew the warrant and set another pay date for the following April, which was the last movement on the case, until this week.

Why no arrest warrant was issued after Rush’s April pay date is unknown, other than possible court staff oversight.

Rush said favoritism is not a factor in him not being forced to pay the fee sooner, such as the court issuing a warrant for his arrest after the pay date had passed.

“I think that if Ken [Pierce] was showing any favoritism in some fashion, Judge Pierce would have been the one to have waived the fees. The fees, obviously, were not waived,” Rush said. “I think Judge Pierce did his job the way he was supposed to do. I wasn’t treated any differently than anyone else.”

Rush said, from his experience as an attorney, it is not out of the ordinary to have a pay date extended.

“Pay dates are moved quite often, and my understanding was .... that Jacobs had made a request and had the case pulled for the purposes of seeing if the fees can get waved, so it got out of its normal flow of things,” Rush said.

The case stems from a June 2011 traffic incident resulting in three preliminary misdemeanor counts of operating while intoxicated, which were later amended to a single count of public intoxication.

“I just put my trust and faith in Brad [Jacobs],” Rush said. “If he told me not to pay because he was going to get it waived, then, of course, that is what I am going to do. And, when he told me yesterday to pay, I went and paid.”