Court denies appeal by circuit clerk to use tax money for defense

The Mississippi Supreme Court building in Jackson. Photo by STEPHEN McDILL / Mississippi Business JournalVICKSBURG — State Auditor Stacey Pickering reports the Mississippi Supreme Court has denied the interlocutory appeal filed by Warren County Circuit Clerk Shelly Ashley-Palmertree.

The three-member panel of Justices Michael Randolph, James Kitchens and Leslie King agreed with an earlier Hinds County Chancery Court ruling restricting Palmertree from using taxpayer money to pay her attorneys’ fees.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the taxpayers of Warren County,” Pickering said. “We are pleased to proceed with this case in Chancery Court on Monday and look forward to a resolution in the near future.”

In March, Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Dewayne Thomas opined that the actions before the Court are a personal action by Palmertree and not an action in the fulfilment of her duties as Circuit Clerk.

In March 2013, the Auditor’s Office served a civil demand to Palmertree in the amount of $661,751.75. The amount included in the demand of $402,033.00 was attributed to Palmertree exceeding the fee cap, and $163,700.00 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 $90,000.00 for both chancery and circuit clerks after any expenses are paid.

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