LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Jefferson County prosecutor suspended for yelling, threatening public defender


A veteran assistant Jefferson County attorney with a history of anger-management issues has been suspended for 30 days for yelling at and threatening a public defender and forcing her out of a conference room.

Robert Fleck, a DUI division chief who is paid $80,449, was suspended without pay until March 13 and ordered to undergo a psychological assessment.

According to records obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act, Fleck engaged in "highly inappropriate conduct" on Jan. 29 when he swore at public defender Kelly Parry and "compelled" her to leave a room.

Just two days later, the records show, he engaged in "rude and unprofessional" conduct towards Jefferson Circuit Court employees - and threatened to have the clerk's office in contempt of court - for failing to produce Transportation Department records in a timely manner - even though he knew a supervisor was scheduled to meet with the clerk's office to address the issue.

"Unfortunately, these two incidents in late January are consistent with your past disruptive and unprofessional conduct," according to a suspension agreement that said Fleck will be fired if there is another similar incident.

Julie Lott Hardesty, first assistant to Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell, said Fleck was retained because he is a "talented prosecutor who has done a lot of wonderful work in this office" and "we wanted to give him one last chance to correct his behavior."

Attorney Karen Faulkner, who is challenging O'Connell in the Democrat primary, called on him to terminate Fleck and said such conduct wouldn't be tolerated if she wins. "This is completely inappropriate and it is not the first time," said Faulkner, a former public defender, who noted that Fleck is a supervisor.

Fleck has an unlisted phone number and couldn't be reached for comment. He signed the suspension agreement.

In a memo to the county attorney's office, Parry said she was negotiating a case with Fleck when he accused her of "prosecutor shopping" in front of her client and threatened to file a bar complaint against her.

When she complained about it to him, she said, "Mr. Fleck said "----you, ----you" and "get the ----out of my conference room."

She said she was standing in the doorway when Fleck approached her and said, "You know what, let me help you out. He then pushed the door closed and pushed me out with it."

Chief Public Defender Dan Goyette said neither he nor anyone on his staff would comment.

The agreement says that Fleck was suspended for two days last October for purposely providing erroneous information to the defense bar that the DUI diversion program was being terminated.

He was previously reprimanded in 2012 for walking away from a defense lawyer and tell him he wouldn't work with him on the case, and a 2009 review found that he had "engaged subordinates in your department in an aggressive manner, including grabbing file jackets from employees' hands."

In 2005, after some attorneys filed motions asking for DUI cases to be dismissed because officers had missed court to attend the funeral of slain Metro Officer Peter Grignon, - who was fatally shot in the line of duty - Fleck sent a letter to the department naming the lawyers and encouraging officers to "show these attorneys the same level of respect that they showed towards Officer Grignon." Fleck was required to apologize.

Fleck is probably best known for allowing wealthy insurance executive Bobby Clarkson, who caused serious injuries in a drunk-driving accident, to plead guilty in 2008 to a careless driving violation,that required him to serve only 30 days on home incarceration. Fleck said he did so to allow the victim to benefit from Clarkson's insurance coverage, which Fleck said he was told wouldn't apply if Clarkson was convicted of a misdemeanor or felony.

O'Connell, who was appointed after the deal was struck, was furious about it and unsuccessfully tried to withdraw it, but a judge made Clarkson serve his time in the Community Corrections Center, which houses work-release inmates.