LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

David James can't serve as Metro Council member and UofL police officer, County Attorney says


David James cannot serve as both a member of the Louisville Metro Council and as a police officer at the University of Louisville, according to a Wednesday opinion from Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell.

O'Connell wrote in a memorandum to Metro Council members that James should not be allowed to vote on council matters until he has vacated one of the offices.

O'Connell wrote in his opinion, which he forwarded to attorney General Jack Conway, that James serves in two incompatible positions under the Kentucky Constitution.An attorney for James, William Warner of Myrtle Beach, S.C., wrote in a letter to O'Connell dated Jan. 31 that James intended to resolve the situation "professionally and in full accord with the law."

O'Connell indicated to Conway that his office recently became aware that James also had a job with the Commonwealth of Kentucky through his work with U of L's Public Safety Department.

"This position has police powers with many of the cases that are initiated through the University of Louisville Police Department and are prosecuted through my office," O'Connell wrote to Conway. "Once I learned of this, I became concerned that he may be holding an incompatible position under Kentucky Constitution."

James, a Democrat who represents the 6th District, was first elected to the Council in November 2010 and was elected to a full four-year term in 2012. He has served as majority leader and was chairman of the Democratic caucus until January, when he lost in a caucus election to Vicki Aubrey Welch, D-13th District.

O'Connell indicated in his letter to Conway that one of his assistant county attorneys rendered an opinion that two Louisville Metro Police Department officers could not continue to serve as officers and run and hold elective office.O'Connell informed Conway that he met with James to inform him he believed the positions were constitutionally incompatible.

"I also informed him as county attorney that I would have to take some action unless this was resolved in the next 30-40 days," he wrote in his Wednesday opinion to Conway.

O'Connell cited court cases and previous opinions from the attorney general's office in writing his opinion.

O'Connell indicated that attorney Charles Middleton of the Louisville firm Middleton Reutlinger wrote the opinion.

Warner wrote an email to Middleton Feb. 19 indicating that James "had decided not to make an issue of the legality of his dual employment and, that he will take immediate steps in conformity with that position," according to O'Connell's opinion to Conway. The county attorney indicated that his office had not yet received a formal confirmation of James leaving his university security position at the time he wrote the letter.

Warner questioned O'Connell's handling of the issue, arguing that as the attorney for the council it was not O'Connell's duty to threaten a client by stating he would take action if James did not give up one of his positions.

State records list James is a lieutenant in the U of L police force at an annual salary of $48,173. The university's web site indicates James is a major. As a member of Metro Council, he is paid $44,189.59, according to city records.

James joined the Louisville Police Department in 1984 and was later promoted to detective. He also served as a member of the SWAT team.