Palmertree blocked from using public funds for legal defense

VICKSBURG — Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Dewayne Thomas has ordered Warren County Circuit Clerk Shelly Palmertree to no longer use taxpayer money to pay for her attorneys’ fees, according to State Auditor Stacey Pickering.

Thomas opined that he believes the action before the court is a personal action by Palmertree and not an action in the fulfillment of her duties as circuit clerk. Therefore, Thomas approved the state’s request for a temporary restraining order to prevent payment of personal attorney fees with public funds.

In addition, Thomas ordered Palmertree to provide a full accounting of all funds received and disbursed by her office to the court and the Warren County Board of Supervisors, as previously ordered, within 25 days. If she fails to do so, Thomas stated he would direct the state to file a petition for contempt.

“The Warren County Board of Supervisors is taking all available measures to recover the taxpayer funds that have been misappropriated by Shelly Palmertree,” Warren County Board of Supervisors attorney Marcie Southerland said. “We look forward to a resolution into this matter in the near future.”

In March 2013, the Auditor’s Office served a civil demand to Palmertree in the amount of $661,751.75. The amount of $402,033 was attributed to Palmertree exceeding the fee cap, and $163,700 was attributed to her making payments to relatives within the first degree of kinship. By exceeding the circuit clerk fee cap, Palmertree violated Mississippi Code Section 9-1-43, which provides a salary limitation of $90,000 for both chancery and circuit clerks after any expenses are paid. This matter is in civil litigation in Hinds County Chancery Clerk.

In a previous unrelated event, Palmertree was indicted on three felony counts of embezzlement on Jan. 23, 2014

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