Judge rules Shepherdsville Mayor is Scott Ellis - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Judge rules Shepherdsville Mayor is Scott Ellis

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Mayor Scott Ellis (WDRB File Photo) Mayor Scott Ellis (WDRB File Photo)
Brian James sworn in as Shepherdsville Mayor. Brian James sworn in as Shepherdsville Mayor.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Who is the mayor of Shepherdsville?

A Bullitt County Circuit Court judge issued a ruling on Tuesday related to that very question.

On Feb. 9, 2016, Shepherdsville Mayor Scott Ellis tendered his resignation after allegations of a sex scandal emerged. According to court documents, his letter of resignation read as follows:

"Effective at 4:00 p.m. this date I officially resign my duties as the Mayor of the City of Shepherdsville. I wish you and the employees of the city nothing but the best."

In a contentious Shepherdsville City Council meeting hours later, council members voted to appoint Brian James -- the husband of Councilwoman Dana Bischoff James -- as the city's mayor. 

Not everyone was happy with that decision. Council members Bernard Brown and Larry Hatfield refused to vote on a new mayor and walked out of the meeting to a round of applause from people in the audience. 

"I'd like to have more time to think about it. It's a serious issue and we don't need to move hastily," said Councilman Bernie Brown, shortly after the vote.

After the hearing, Brown and Hatfield filed a suit in Bullitt County Circuit Court, arguing that Ellis' letter did not constitute notice of his resignation as mayor. Specifically, they make a distinction between the "duties" of mayor and the "office" of mayor, arguing that Ellis' letter effectively provided notice of resignation from the former, but not the latter.

In his ruling Tuesday, Judge Rodney Burress agreed, siding with Brown and Hatfield that Ellis did not vacate the office of mayor. 

"The Court therefore finds that the letter of resignation tendered by the Defendant, Raymond "Scott Ellis," on February 9, 2016 failed to provide notice as required by KRS 81A.040(7) of his resignation in the "office" of Mayor," the judge wrote in the ruling. "It is therefore ADJUDGED that the February 9, 2016 letter of Raymond "Scott" Ellis to Randy Hammond, Bernie Brown, Dana Bischoff James, Ashley Bratcher, Larry Hatfield and Gloria Daft did not create a vacancy in the office of Mayor of Shepherdsville."

Attorneys were back in court on Wednesday afternoon, but the hearing was quick. They decided no appeal would be made to Burress' ruling.

Ellis' Attorney John Cook says, "The matter is closed and Scott Ellis is the mayor of Shepherdsville and we move forward. As of right now, we're weighing options. There's a couple decisions that need to be made, but I'm advising him not to do that until he's had a chance to digest this ruling."

When asked what the Council will do about the salaries for Ellis and James, City Councilman Larry Hatfield says, "As far as Mr. Ellis, I think he would be due back pay. As far as Mr. James receiving any money, I think that's going to be a legal question we're going to have to cross. My understanding is he received over $32,000 today."

City Attorney Joe Wantland says, "I think the tax payers are going to pay twice. They are going to pay for both services -- one is mandated by law, the other is for only fairness. The man worked during this period of time and supported our community."

Cook says he's advising Ellis to be back on the job Thursday morning.

Cook says since February, Ellis has been busy. He says, "I believe he's bought a business. I don't know the exact nature of the business, so he's taking care of his family."

Six people were running for Shepherdsville mayor on the November ballot, but the city attorney says there will no longer be an election.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 13. 

Copyright 2016 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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