Metro Council president accused of colluding in lawsuit against the city
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Attorneys for the city have accused Metro Council President David James of “acting in collusion” with a Louisville police officer who has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the department and Metro Government.
The Jefferson County Attorney’s office, which represents the city in litigation, has called for an emergency hearing Friday afternoon in the case of LMPD Lt. Jimmy Harper, who claims he was demoted from his major rank as retaliation for raising concerns about the department’s management.
The city claims James is working with Harper and his attorney, Thomas Clay, to “undermine the integrity of the judicial process,” according to a motion filed Friday asking for a delay in Harper’s trial, which is scheduled to begin Tuesday.
The city “believes that Metro Council President James is working in collaboration with the plaintiff in an effort to aid him in the recovery of a substantial verdict against the very Louisville Metro Government Council President James has sworn to protect,” the motion concludes.
The allegation stems from a deposition James gave last month in the case in which he testified that Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad has repeatedly lied and should be on a list the department keeps that identifies problematic officers who have credibility issues.
James, who is a former LMPD officer, said Conrad belongs on the so-called Brady list, named after the “Brady law,” a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says defendants must be told about potentially beneficial evidence in criminal cases, such as the trustworthiness of police officers.
After the deposition, Mayor Greg Fischer asked James for “hard facts to support the seriously defamatory statements he had made about the Chief of Police,” according to the motion by Assistant County Attorney Peter Ervin.
James sent Fischer a text Tuesday saying he had documents that would prove his claim and turned over a binder on materials on Thursday, according to the motion.
The contents of the binder appear to have been put together by an attorney in a “laborious and painstaking effort to provide impeachment type information of Chief Conrad,” Ervin argued. Ervin said none of the information would qualify Conrad to be on a Brady list.
Ervin argued the information was put together by Clay in an effort to “set the Mayor up” when he is called as a witness in the Harper trial.
The city wants James to testify as to where he got the materials he gave to Fischer.
James testified Conrad has lied to him on several occasions, though he declined to offer specifics. However, James said Conrad lied in a whistleblower case brought by Officer Barron Morgan, who claimed he was demoted for helping a woman who was in prison for a murder she did not commit.
In 2014, Morgan won a $450,000 settlement against Louisville Metro government.
James did not say specifically what the chief lied about, saying only that Conrad "tried to help or keep a woman in prison for a murder she didn’t commit.”
Conrad removed Harper from the high-ranking position of major as part of department-wide reorganization last year.
But Harper claims he was demoted after he told Conrad that he had concerns about the chief’s leadership and also informed some Metro Council members about those issues.
Conrad started the Brady list policy locally in 2013, adding more than two dozen officers whose conduct could be problematic, and their disciplinary issues were turned over to prosecutors.
Also as part of the policy, Conrad put the department's 1,200 officers on notice that any violations involving untruthfulness "will likely lead to termination from this department."
In a 2013 interview with WDRB News, Conrad said he was taking a harder line on lying than his predecessors, in part, because of the recent change in policy.
"We now have a number of officers who when they testify have to explain that situation in the past," he said at the time. "I just don't want to have to deal with this again. Our credibility is important. It affects the community's trust in us."
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