Franklin County Commission

A Franklin County Commission order appointing attorneys to represent the county is in violation of state statute, a Villa Ridge man alleges in a lawsuit filed this month.

Plaintiff Art LeBeau, who is representing himself in the case, says in his lawsuit that a “statute, order or ordinance is to be written in clear and concise language so that a person of reasonable intelligence can completely comprehend the subject.”

County Counselor Mark Vincent said he cannot comment on the lawsuit because it is pending litigation.

LeBeau charges that the commission order that appointed Vincent as county counselor and the law firm of Purschke, White, Robinson & Becker of Union should be declared “void for vagueness.”

Specifically, LeBeau takes issue with a sentence in the commission order that says the county commission received a recommendation from the county counselor to appoint attorneys to assist with civil matters.

The lawsuit states that there was no “recommendation from the county counselor by either attachment and or reference to any such recommendation having been received by the county commission.”

The commission order challenged in the lawsuit dates back to Dec. 11, 2012.

In the lawsuit, LeBeau asks if the county counselor is “recommending that licensed attorneys be appointed county counselors thus making the office have more than one county counselor.”

This is not allowed by statute, LeBeau asserts in the suit. He asks if the attorneys appointed to assist in legal manners are equal to the county counselor.

“Surely it is not in conformance with (statute) 56.640.1 RSMo, which allows for ‘assistant county counselors’ but makes absolutely no mention of them being the county counselor.”

LeBeau also said the statement in the commission order that says “all members and associates” of the firm of Purschke, White, Robinson & Becker are “re-appointed” is false because the firm was never appointed previously.

Moreover, LeBeau said it is unclear who “all members and associates” are.

“There is no definition  — is the intelligent reader to assume that ‘members’ could be legal secretaries, phone operators, stenographers, a person with an interest in the firm but is not active in its day-to-day operations.”

The lawsuit goes on to state, “Who might the ‘associates’ be?”

The lawsuit also challenges the part of the county commission order that states, “The aforesaid assistant county counselors shall receive such compensation as provided in the 2013 county budget as reflected in that portion of the budget applicable to the county municipal court.”

The suit says there is no explanation in terms of how the budget for the county municipal court prosecutors can pay for the assistant county counselors. This leaves the matter of compensation vague, the lawsuits charges.

LeBeau asks the court that he be reimbursed the cost of filing the lawsuit and whatever other compensation is deemed “fair and just.”

The lawsuit is filed in Franklin County Circuit Court and has been assigned to Judge Gael Wood.