Shanklin walks out of ethics hearing again - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Shanklin walks out of ethics hearing again

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- For the second day in a row, Louisville Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin walked out of the ethics hearing looking into whether she used her office to her advantage.

She had returned to that hearing Thursday morning, but in the afternoon, at her lawyer Aubrey Williams' urging, she left once again.

Earlier Thursday morning, the hearing officer addressed Shanklin's abrupt walkout on Wednesday. Walking out of her hearing doesn't necessarily help her case, Ann Sheadel explained:  "In civil proceedings, adverse inferences can be drawn from the party's invocation of the Fifth Amendment right.  Because Councilwoman Shanklin does not answer any questions, this adverse inference can be taken as a response."

On Wednesday, when the councilwoman was called to testify, she refused to answer any questions, saying it was her Fifth Amendment right.  Eventually Williams ordered her to go home, which she did. 

The Ethics Commission claims there is evidence Shanklin used her office to her advantage by hiring her grandson, who had outstanding warrants.  She's also accused of taking part in a tax-funded program designed to teach ex-convicts how to upholster furniture.  Documents show $30,000 of taxpayer money was used for that program.

Shanklin is also accused of writing checks for the Peterson/Newburg Improvement Association and failing to disclose that to the council.

The councilwoman's walkout could effect the outcome of the case.  If found guilty, Shanklin could be reprimanded or removed from office.

"When the council person refuses to cooperate in that process, it almost makes it impossible for the commission to make a recommendation in my view based on what may necessarily be the facts of the case. It almost frustrates the entire purpose," says prosecutor James Earhart.

Shanklin's attorney spoke briefly with the media after the hearing.

"I'm just calling it the way it was. Media dragged her through the mud for months," says Aubrey Williams, Shankin's attorney.

The hearing ended on Thursday afternoon.  The hearing officer will make a recommendation by January.  A decision isn't expected until mid-March. 

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