Politics
6:29 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Council Court Delays Ruling on Mayor Greg Fischer Subpoena in Barbara Shanklin Removal Trial

The chair of the Metro Council Court is holding off on deciding whether Mayor Greg Fischer will be compelled to testify at the removal trial of embattled Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin next week.

The councilwoman faces removal from her District 2 council seat for ethics violations that the commission ruled she committed. Shanklin has denied any wrongdoing, but a Charging Committee of five fellow city lawmakers filed a petition seeking her removal from office.

At issue are allegations that Shanklin misused taxpayers money to benefit her friends and family through an upholstery program for ex-offenders. She also faces charges that she controlled public funds allocated to the Petersburg-Newburg Improvement Association given she was a board member who signed for the group's checks.

In a series of rulings, Council President Jim King, who chairs the court, granted subpoenas for witnesses including Shanklin's relatives, city officials and two members of the Metro Ethics Commission.

Attorney Aubrey Williams, who is representing Shanklin, blasted King and Jefferson County Mike O'Connell at a conference earlier this week over what he says have been unfair proceedings.

The subpoenas of nine witnesses on Williams's list were denied due to a lack of issuances, but King did not deny the one for Fischer. Rather, he is questing Shanklin's legal counsel provide more information on why the mayor is being summoned.

"The court reserves ruling on the request for issuance of subpoenas for (Greg Fischer) until (Williams) satisfies the court of the necessity of such subpoenas," King said in the ruling.

It was the mayor's office that shut down the upholstery program in Shanklin's district in 2011, citing concerns with oversight.

Williams has declined repeated requests  for comment, but court records obtained by WFPL show Fischer is expected to testify about "various matters relating to any laws, policies and procedures" regarding his decision to halt the program.

Fischer's general counsel Pau Mulvihill told King on Wednesday he plans to object to any subpoena issued for the mayor by the court.

The court will hold a conference with Shanklin and the Charging Committee's attorneys regarding the remaining subpoenas on Monday, July 22.

The removal trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday, July 23.

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