The Franklin County Commission violated state statute by appointing multiple attorneys, a citizen’s lawsuit states.
After a hearing last Friday, the lawsuit is set to be back in Franklin County Circuit Court April 18 at 9 a.m. before Associate Judge Richard Scheibe of Warrenton.
Villa Ridge resident Art LeBeau challenges the county commission’s appointment of legal counsel, particularly the number of attorneys the commission appointed for representation.
In January, Judge Scheibe directed LeBeau to amend his lawsuit in order to proceed in the case.
Now that the amended lawsuit has been filed, the next step for the county is to file an answer, said Matt Becker, the attorney handling the case for the county.
Becker referred questions on the merits of LeBeau’s case to the County Counselor Mark Vincent, who declined comment Tuesday.
LeBeau’s lawsuit challenges a 2012 county commission order that reappointed Mark Vincent county counselor and appointed the Union law firm of Purschke, White, Robinson and Becker as assistant county counselors.
The commission order appointing the attorneys cites state Statute 56.631. LeBeau says that statute allows the county commission to appoint a county counselor. But the commission order violates the state statute by appointing ‘duly licensed attorneys as the county counselors to assist in all civil matters,’ ” the lawsuit alleges.
The fact that the commission order mentions multiple “attorneys” and “county counselors” violates the state statute, LeBeau says.
The statute “does not allow nor provide for additional attorneys,” the lawsuit asserts.
Another claim in the lawsuit deals with compensation paid to Purschke, White, Robinson and Becker for legal services.
The disputed commission order states that the law firm will receive compensation “as provided in the 2013 county budget as reflected in that portion of the budget applicable to the County Municipal Court.”
LeBeau’s lawsuit states, that, “This is not a comprehendible statement and no facts back it up.”
A separate commission order from 2013 is also challenged in the lawsuit for similar reasons.
That commission order says that state Statute 56.650 allows the county counselor to employ assistant county counselors to help with duties.
But LeBeau’s lawsuit challenges the commission’s order.
“Nowhere in 56.650 does it say anything about assistant county counselors,” the lawsuit alleges.
LeBeau also asserts that the commission order is void because it mentions paying a salary to the assistant county counselors.
“They are not employees of the county and therefore cannot receive a salary,” LeBeau charges.
In a January hearing, Judge Scheibe directed LeBeau to amend his lawsuit if he wished to continue the case.
Specifically, Scheibe noted that LeBeau’s original lawsuit did not state that he had standing to sue the county in the matter.
Following last Friday’s hearing, LeBeau said the judge now says he has standing to continue his lawsuit.
In his amended suit, LeBeau said the Missouri Supreme Court recently ruled that he had standing as a taxpayer to sue the county in another matter. That lawsuit charges that a Missouri House bill that authorized the county’s new municipal court is unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court recently remanded that case back to Franklin County Circuit Court. A hearing in that case is set for Friday at 9 a.m.