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Sneyd to pay own fees in lawsuit

Clerk and Master Brenda Sneyd will be suing Washington County on her own dime, according to a ruling signed last week by Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz.
Kurtz made the decision in response to an April 13 telephone hearing for arguments on two pending motions.
While Kurtz ordered Sneyd during the hearing to answer questions within 10 days regarding time she and her associates spend completing work for her role as a special commissioner, he said a written notice would be provided of his decision on whether Sneyd’s lawyer, Arthur M. Fowler, could be paid with funds from the Office of the Clerk and Master.
In his order, Kurtz writes, [Sneyd] “contends that when an office holder is suing in her official capacity [the office holder] has a right to be represented at public expense.”
However, as the order states, this case involves no allegations that the Office of Clerk and Master is not well-operated or that it is unable to fulfill its statutory duties.
“The case simply alleges that the Clerk and Master herself is entitled to pay equal to that of the Circuit Court Clerk…,” Kurtz wrote.
He referred to a very recent case by the Supreme Court that cites additional cases in which public officials have been denied attorney’s fees, even though they sued in their official capacity.
“The Court here further does not believe that this is a case brought in the official capacity of the clerk and master. This lawsuit has to do with her pay and not the functioning of her office or her official duties. This lawsuit is for her benefit….The motion to employ counsel at government expense is denied,” Kurtz ruled in his order.
A separate Scheduling Order was signed by Kurtz on April 19.
During the April 13 telephone hearing, both Fowler and Erick Herrin, counsel for the county, agreed with the court that additional motions might resolve this case since it is dominated by legal, not factual, issues.
As a result of a post-hearing conference, and by agreement of counsel, it was decided that dispositive motions must be filed by Friday, June 17, and responses to motions must be filed by Monday, Aug. 1.
A hearing on these motions will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 9 a.m. in Chancery Court at the George P. Jaynes Justice Center.