Bullitt County Attorney's office wants circuit judge removed from controversial case
SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Supreme Court's chief justice will decide whether a Bullitt Circuit Court judge will remain on a case involving the release of a convicted felon.
That's after the Bullitt judge ordered an investigation into why his order to keep that felon in a home incarceration program was ignored.
The County Attorney's office asked that Chief Justice John Minton decide whether Judge Rodney Burress should be removed from the case of Misty Thompson, who Burress had ordered be put on the home incarceration program late last month.
Thompson was denied use of the program by the county because she could not afford to pay the necessary fees and administrative costs, prompting Burress's request for an investigation over who disobeyed his order.
A week ago, Burress angrily implied that Bullitt County Attorney Monica Robinson or another official may have committed obstruction of justice or another crime by refusing to put Thompson on home incarceration as ordered.
On Friday, Assistant County Attorney Susan Streible argued that Burress should be removed, in part, because last week he said he would not listen to "one word" from Robinson about the issue, which revolves around who has control of the county's home incarceration program.
Burress responded that he told Robinson he would not listen to "one more word" on a particular issue but did give her opportunity to speak about the home incarceration program.
And Burress repeated his concern that Thompson was released because "someone disobeyed a court order. Now whether that's contempt, whether there was any criminal involvement or whether it's none of the above I don't know because we have not gotten to the bottom of that issue yet. For some reason, somebody doesn't want us to get there."
Burress continued that he "will not stand for a violation of court orders. I don't know who did it, I don't know what happened, but it completely undermines the integrity of the entire judicial process when people outside of the court of justice can simply decide if they do or do not want to follow a court order.… I think the citizens of this community and this court deserve an explanation as to why the court orders are not followed."
Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Mann, who was ordered to conduct the investigation by Burress, did not mention where it stood during the court hearing. He refused to comment afterwards.
Robinson had high-profile Louisville defense attorneys in court, including Scott C. Cox and Rob Eggert, but they did not talk during the hearing and also wouldn't comment after it had ended.
Burress said he believed he was "fair and impartial" but would allow the chief justice to decide whether he should remain on the case.
"At some point there will be an answer as to why the citizens of this community had the integrity of this court system removed from them," he said before adjourning.
Last week, Robinson told Burress she never had an intent to circumvent the judge's order but that she didn't have the authority to spend the county's money to place someone on home incarceration without them paying fees.
She said Thompson was denied home incarceration because rules put into place by county officials require a defendant to pay all or part of the fees and administrative costs associated with the equipment.
Thompson was indigent and could not pay the $20 a day fee.
Burress asked her if Bullitt County is denying indigent people home incarceration.
Robinson said the county can provide the equipment for defendants who can't afford it as long as it is cleared ahead of time, but that the county was losing money on the program without adding the fees.
Earlier this week, the Bullitt County Jailer filed a motion asking for an injunction against the fiscal court, county attorney and sheriff, claiming the officials illegally took control of the home incarceration program and raised rates to make money.
Jailer Martha Knox is asking Burress to prohibit Robinson and Sheriff David Greenwell from running the program and collecting fees and give control of it back to the jail.
The HIP program, according to the suit, was run by the jail until Fiscal Court handed control to Greenwell during an Aug. 6 meeting.
A court date has been set for Nov. 6 to hear the request for an injunction, though it may now be delayed because of the motion to remove Burress from the Thompson case.
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