LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Lawyer for Councilwoman Judy Green asks judge to overturn ethics rulings


A lawyer for Louisville Metro Councilwoman Judy Green told a circuit court judge Monday that the Ethics Commission overstepped its authority when it found she intentionally violated multiple sections of the city's ethics law.

Kent Wicker asked Jefferson Circuit Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman to overturn those rulings, which led the Ethics Commission to issue letters of reprimand and censure and recommend Green's removal from office.

Two ethics complaints were filed against Green this year - one for her management of a summer jobs program for youth in which at least 10 of her relatives worked, and the other over her disbursement of a $7,500 grant to a non-profit agency, which she then had secretly reroute most of the money to other organizations at her direction.

During oral arguments on Green's appeal of the Ethics Commission's rulings, Wicker told the judge that Green did not receive a fair hearing in either case because commission members misinterpreted the city's ethics law and accepted testimony that should have been excluded.

Wicker said the commission also acted wrongly when it found she had not committed the charges outlined in the complaints but nonetheless found her guilty of other violations.

"This case was all about theft until we got to the hearing and found out it wasn't about theft," Wicker said, referring to the complaint related to the summer jobs program. "But (the commission) found sloppy bookkeeping and some other types of conduct that they thought were a bad idea and they tried to fit it into ... the ethics ordinance."

Attorney James Earhart, who prosecuted Green during in two hearings before the Ethics Commission earlier this year, argued that circuit court doesn't have jurisdiction to overturn the findings.

Earhart said that in both complaints, Green engaged in a transaction or professional activity which was in conflict with her political duties. Part of her duty to taxpayers was to make sure the paperwork concerning the $7,500 grant to 100 Black Men of Louisville was accurate and complete, he said.

That paperwork did not mention that $5,600 was to be given to other agencies at Green's direction.

"If this isn't what the ethics ordinance is directed to deal with, then I don't know why they have one," Earhart said. "There is nothing to suggest there was a lack of due process in the procedures afforded by the commission."

McDonald-Burkman said she would issue a ruling soon.

Green faces a removal hearing before her council colleagues Sept. 12. She asked for a delay in that hearing because of an unspecified illness, and on Thursday presented the council with an affidavit from cardiologist Wayne S. Gibson, whose statement said that any "undue stress" would not be in Green's "best health interest."

The affidavit says that Green was admitted to an unnamed hospital and does not say how long she spent there.

The council rejected the request for a delay because of the vagueness of Gibson's statement.

Judy Green's husband, James, attended Monday's hearing.

When asked how Judy Green was feeling, James Green responded: "Somewhat better." James Green walked away without responding when asked how long his wife was in the hospital and when she was discharged.

Earhart said the judge's ruling on the appeal will have no affect on Green's removal hearing, but Wicker said McDonald-Burkman's ruling on the appeal could have an impact.

"It seems to me that would be an important thing for them to know before going forward," Wicker said.