Complaining about the length of an ongoing lawsuit, the chairman of the Leavenworth County Commission said Tuesday that the judge in the case needs to get off his “dead tush.”

Complaining about the length of an ongoing lawsuit, the chairman of the Leavenworth County Commission said Tuesday that the judge in the case needs to get off his “dead tush.”

Chairman Louis Klemp also said he will refuse to participate in a deposition in the case even if he has to go to jail.
“I don't have any problems going to jail,” he said.

At issue is a lawsuit that was filed last year on behalf of the Leavenworth County Commission to challenge the contracts of four employees.

The petition for the declaratory judgment named Human Resources Director Tamara Copeland, County Counselor Mollie Hill, Deputy County Counselor Andrea Hughes and Road and Bridge Superintendent Vincent Grier as defendants in the case.

Grier has since been dismissed from the lawsuit.

Copeland, Hill and Hughes, who have filed counterclaims in the case, were terminated by the County Commission several months after the lawsuit was filed. Hill has since been hired to work for the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office.

The contracts of Copeland, Hill and Hughes were approved by the County Commission in 2016.

Copeland was given a five-year contract. The other contracts were approved for three years.

The contracts called for the employees to continue to be paid their salaries for the remainder of their contract periods after being terminated.

But after Copeland, Hill and Hughes were terminated in October, the County Commission stopped paying the former employees.

The lawsuit was filed after the makeup of the County Commission changed in 2017 as Doug Smith replaced Dennis Bixby as the commissioner from the county's 3rd District.

The petition for a declaratory judgment argues the former County Commission’s approval of the contracts “was an attempt to bind successors in matters that are fundamental to the administration of county government and usurp the authority of the present Board of County Commissioners.”

The petition also argues the contracts created “an indebtedness by Board of County Commissioners for funds which are not yet in the budget and would violate the Kansas Cash Basis Law and the Kansas Budget Law.”

An attorney for the County Commission recently filed a motion for a partial summary judgment, asking the judge to rule that the severance provisions of the contracts are null and void. The judge has granted an extension to give the defendants more time to file their responses to the motion.

The lawsuit was filed before Klemp joined the commission. He later was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board after Commissioner Clyde Graeber resigned because of health reasons.

Klemp brought up the lawsuit at the end of Tuesday's commission meeting.

“It just keeps going on and on,” he said.

Klemp said the judge needs to make a decision regarding whether the contracts are legal.

Klemp blamed the contracts on two commissioners who ran astray.

The court case is being presided over by Judge Edward Bouker.

Bouker is a senior judge for the state of Kansas. He was assigned to the case after local District Judge David King recused himself.

Klemp said King should never have recused himself.

At one point Tuesday, Klemp asked if there is a way to find out Bouker's salary.

“I would like to know what he's being paid,” Klemp said.

County Counselor David Van Parys said this information should be public record.

Several people already have been deposed in the case including County Clerk Janet Klasinski.

Klasinski said Commissioner Bob Holland attended the deposition.

Klasinski said she was not at liberty to discuss her deposition with the commissioners but they can ask Holland about it.

Holland was absent during Tuesday's commission meeting.

“I didn't know we were supposed to come and sit with you,” Commissioner Doug Smith said to Klasinski.

Van Parys said commissioners can attend depositions because they are parties in the case. But he said they are represented by legal counsel and do not have to attend.

Even though the case was filed on behalf of the County Commission, Holland has been critical of the lawsuit.

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