The five members of the Louisville Metro Council who brought impeachment charges against embattled Councilwoman Judy Green, D-1, submitted their witness list to the clerk’s office Thursday for later approval by the council court. The remaining lawmakers who will sit as jurors also voted to set the removal trial for September 12.
Despite complaints from members not to delay the process any further, the council court chose to move in a prudent manner in what’s been an unprecedented process.
“This is a very difficult thing that we had to deal with,” says Councilman Kelly Downard, R-16, who chairs the court. “We had probably about 30 people to try and take into consideration and there’s no way to make this work for everyone.”
A bipartisan group of lawmakers brought the misconduct charges against Green last month after the Metro Ethics Commission ruled she deliberately violated the city’s ethics law. In two separate complaints, Green has been accused of violating the law in connection with her handling of a city-funded summer jobs program and rerouting funds through a non-profit group without the council’s knowledge.
Juggling their schedules up against the calendars of legal counsel on both sides, lawmakers debated different dates but settled on having the the trial in September to give Green time to compile a defense. Members were also trying to abide by their own rules, which mandate the trial be held within 60 days from when the charges were formally read into the record in June.
Earlier in the week the council court approved two possible dates for early August, but attorney Derwin Webb, who is representing Green, objected to the fairness of that decision. In a telephone interview, however, Webb told WFPL he’s happy the council took the prudent step.
“I’m pleased that the council graciously allowed for a time that is convenient for all the parties involved to be available,” he says. “What’s left now is familiarizing myself with the case and making sure we have the right witnesses who will provide her side of the case as well.”
The council court will have to approve the charging committee’s list in order for the subpoenas to be formally issued, but it does reveal where the prosecution intends to take the case against Green.
Over a dozen people have been listed to testify by the charging committee, including Green,who ill be questioned about her role with the Green Clean Team and funding a mentoring program for 100 Black Men of Louisville. The prosecution also says Green will be expected to testify about other allegations, such as requiring legislative aides to “perform personal services” such as “repaying loans to an individual whom she described as her ‘loan shark'” and to babysit Green’s foster children.
Other witnesses listed include her former and current assistants, the former city auditor, police detectives and non-profit leaders who previously didn’t appear before the ethics commission.
The documents being requested for review and submission include any correspondence regarding the summer jobs program or city grant awarded to 100 Black Men, which embroiled the councilwoman in the second ethics complaint.
Attorney Gregg Hovious, who will prosecute the case, says the individuals and documents are pertinent to the upcoming expulsion trial, but who he will call to testify depends largely on Green’s defense.
“We’ve got most the of the main witnesses. We may add to it down the road, but I wanted to get that out and start working on the subpoenas as quickly as I could,” he says. “There will be more testimony from various witnesses on all the issues that are in play. The difference between the ethics hearings and this hearing is we have subpoena power here.”
Among the documents being requested for the trial are the embattled councilwoman’s bank records in connection with a police investigation conducted last year, which questioned several people involved with the Green Clean Team and uncovered a number of sordid allegations made against her.
One of the key witnesses will be Green’s legislative aide, Andrea Jackson, who was interviewed by Metro Police in a 554-page investigative file that levied a number of accusations against Green, including identity theft and bribery.
Last September, detectives interviewed Jackson, specifically questioning her about an anonymous complaint that Green took out a credit card in Jackson’s name without her consent.
According to police documents, Jackson had given money to Green’s husband and was a silent partner in his automotive business. However, Jackson told police she did not know about the credit card until she found it on the councilwoman’s desk while straightening up the office. The card had accumulated a balance of approximately $25,000 with interest.
“It’s a concern. It’s a big concern,” Jackson told police.
The subpoena application also seeks testimony from Melody Hill, Green’s former legislative aide, who along with Jackson, told investigators Green received a bribe from a west Louisville liquor store owner before last year’s primary election.
From LEO Weekly:
Last April, residents in Green’s district were debating a proposed wet-dry vote in a section of the Parkland neighborhood, where alcohol sales had long been prohibited. According to Hill, the councilwoman was initially against more liquor stores, adding that Green petitioned state officials to deny a license request filed by Ghassan Omari, owner of Lorie’s Liquors in her district.
Legislative aide Andrea Jackson — who accompanied Green to the liquor store that day — echoed that account, telling police that the councilwoman said she received cash from the storeowner.
On Aug. 26, police questioned Omari, who denied giving money to Green.
Omari is also on the prosecution’s witness list and is being compelled to produce copies of all document relating to his liquor license. Hovious has also subpoenaed Sandra Fant, another liquor store owner who Hill mentioned in the police file and who will be asked “whether she gave money to Dr. Green in exchange for her support” of alcohol sales in the district.
Leaders of 100 Black Men, who did not show up during the second ethics hearing against, have also been listed to testify. In 2009, she allegedly told officers with the non-profit group to ask Metro Government for $7,5000 when they only needed $1,900 for a mentoring program. Green was accused of not listing the other groups on the original application and giving out the additional funds at her discretion, including the purchase of tickets for a Kentucky Derby fundraiser that she attended. During the ethics hearing, Green blamed her former assistant for the lapse.
The charging committee has compelled Rob Jordan, president of 100 Black Men, and Charles Alexander, the group’s treasurer, to testify before the court and deliver all documents pertaining to the grant application.
Asked if it would be difficult to find the individuals who didn’t appear before the ethics panel during their proceedings, Hovious said he expects to exercise the council’s subpoena power successfully and that they’ll find everyone before the trial begins.
“I think that I have the best private investigator probably in the country who works with me. And I feel confident that we’ll get anybody subpoenaed who’s in town,” he says.
Webb would not comment on the prosecution’s witness list, but said he will review the subpoenas in the coming days.
A two-thirds vote is required to remove Green from office.