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Citizen challenges commission on constitutionality of possible post elimination

August 11, 2011

Jefferson County Commissioner Jim McIntyre

BROOKVILLE — At a June Jefferson County Commission meeting, the commissioners said that eliminating the position of jury commissioner would save the county $12,000.

And then, at a July meeting, Commissioner Jim McIntyre said legislation to eliminate the position of jury commissioner will be back on the table this fall.

But he is “anticipating that it will be the decision of the county commissioners, and not a referendum.”

However, at Tuesday’s commission meeting, Punxsy resident Jim Wicker said the commissioners would be in a “very serious violation (of their) constitutional oath of office” if they eliminated the position.

“If you think the county commissioners can eliminate the position of jury commissioner, then it follows that the county commissioners can eliminate any elected office and/or the duties of an elected office, and this you cannot do,” he said. “I don’t think you guys have the authority to eliminate this position.”

Wicker then went on to say that the duties should not be passed along to the court secretary.

In response to that, Commissioner Jeff Pisarchik said that the judge appoints the jury. Not only does that occur in Jefferson County, but across the state as well.

“Well, if that ever comes before us, the authority will be given to us by state legislation,” McIntyre added. “I appreciate your research and your diligence in what you’ve come up with. But not one of us would make a decision unless we were given the authority to do, that and that’s coming from state legislation. I hope that you would respect that we have enough intelligence here not to do something that we wouldn’t do. Because I take it as an accusation from you that you’re saying we’re going to do this and would do it wrongfully. I take offense to that.”
Despite McIntyre’s explanation, Wicker did not back down and said again that he thinks the commissioners are wrong.

“And you have that right to have that opinion,” McIntyre said.

Commission Chairman Paul Corbin said that things change and times change.

“This has not been generated from this office here; it’s been an issue statewide,” he said.

In other business:
• The commissioners approved invoices in the amount of $778,162.70 for the period July 27 through Aug. 9 inclusive.

• The commissioners approved pending invoices in the amount of $150,004.16.

• The commissioners approved the actual gross payroll in the amount of $196,780.54 for payment for the period July 17 through July 30 inclusive.

• The commissioners approved the tentative gross payroll in the amount of $198,000 for payment for the period July 31 through Aug. 13 inclusive.

• The next commission meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23.

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