A Villa Ridge man who earlier this year sued the Franklin County Commission threatened Tuesday to do so again if the structure of the newly established municipal court remains the same.
Art LeBeau said the court was violating state statutes by putting the office of the prosecuting attorney under the purview of the county counselor.
LeBeau also alluded to the idea that doing so created a conflict of interest in the county.
The county contracted with Purschke, White, Robinson & Becker to serve as prosecutors for the municipal court.
County Counselor Mark Vincent is “of counsel” with the firm. Joe Purschke, a partner with the firm, also is the county’s assistant counselor.
The two men also are distantly related by marriage.
LeBeau said the prosecuting attorney should fall under the presiding circuit court judge.
In Franklin County, that would be Judge Gael Wood.
Vincent said there are no statutes regulating county municipal court prosecuting attorneys and said he would have no objections to the commission making the municipal prosecutor’s office its own independent office reporting directly to the commission.
“Having the prosecutor report to the presiding judge would create an inherent conflict of interest,” he said. “Mr. LeBeau’s comments are inaccurate and vindictive in nature.”
LeBeau said if the county court continues with its current structure, “I’d be inclined to file something in court.”
Earlier this year LeBeau, Eric Reichert, Villa Ridge, and Ron Keeven, New Haven, filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the county over an order passed related to the refinancing of tens of millions of dollars worth in lease-back bonds called certificates of participation.
The men insisted the suit was not designed to delay the refinancing, but rather asked the court to rule whether or not commissioners could delegate their authority to sign a contract to a single designated signatory.
The suit was filed pro se.
Commissioner Ann Schroeder Tuesday said the commission’s duty is to turn responsibilities over to those most qualified.
Commissioner Terry Wilson said Vincent reports to the commission, and so the prosecutors are reporting to the commission through him.
Tuesday commissioners rescinded an order passed last week establishing rules and policies for the newly-formed court and passed a new order.