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Royalty files notice of appeal of his removal from office as city’s mayor

Former Bardstown Mayor John Royalty listens to testimony during the removal hearing held April 12-13, 2017 at the Nelson County Justice Center.

 

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Friday, May 12, 2017, 4 p.m. (Media statement added, 8 p.m.) — The attorneys for former Bardstown Mayor John Royalty filed notice he plans to appeal his removal as the city’s mayor.

The appeal names all six members of the Bardstown City Council and Mayor Dick Heaton individually; the City of Bardstown and former Circuit Judge Doughlas George who served as hearing officer for the hearing that led to Royalty’s removal.

Lexington attorney Scott Crosbie questions a witness during the April public hearing that ended with the city council’s vote to remove then-Mayor John Royalty from office.

The appeal, filed Friday in Nelson Circuit Court, appeals the former mayor’s removal from office, “including the facts, circumstances, and legal challenges lead up to that removal.” The appeal also questions the constitutionality of the KRS statute 83A.040 (9) that addresses removal of an elected city official.

The attorneys for Royalty — Jason Floyd and Doug Hubbard — also ask the court to interpret the phrase “the Appeal shall be on record” that is also contained in that section of the statute.

In a statement released Friday evening, Royalty’s attorneys said their client had no choice but to file an appeal after the council approved filing a counterclaim against Royalty seeking repayment of the costs of the investigation and public hearing. The council also unanimously approved referring the investigation report and evidence from the removal hearing to the Commonwealth’s Attorney office and the joint city-county ethics board for their reviews.

“The Bardstown City Council had an opportunity for this case simply to go away, but could not leave well enough alone. Instead, your City government chose to escalate this matter … In doing so, it is apparent your Council and new administration intend to continue to prioritize publicity, politics and conflict over the needs of, and at considerable expense of, its citizenry,” the statement said.

BACKGROUND. After a two-day hearing and testimony from nine witnesses, the Bardstown City Council voted unanimously to remove the former mayor on three counts of official misconduct on April 13. The actions came after a three-month investigation that was triggered by the appearance of anonymous packets of information targeting former Councilman Francis Lydian and Councilwoman Kecia Copeland. Royalty denied any involvement in the packets.

The misconduct chargers were based on accusations Royalty improperly accessed Copeland’s email and directed a city employee to lie to the council in order to cover up the reason they were asked to turn in their city-issued iPads for software updates.

Editors note: A lawsuit represents only one side of a dispute.

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