Judge: Kentucky governor cannot be prosecuted while in office
By ROGER ALFORD Associated Press Writer
(AP) - FRANKFORT, Kentucky-A judge ruled Friday that Gov. Ernie Fletcher, under fire for a hiring scandal, is protected by executive immunity and cannot be prosecuted while in office.
Special Judge David E. Melcher essentially stayed the case until Fletcher's term expires, or unless he is removed through impeachment by the legislature.
Fletcher, Kentucky's first Republican governor in three decades, was indicted in May on charges alleging his administration rewarded political supporters with protected state jobs. He has accused the Democratic attorney general of conducting a politically motivated investigation in the case.
Scott Crawford-Sutherland, the state attorney general's top prosecutor, urged the judge not to dismiss, saying no man is above the law.
"There is no state in this country that has extended the kind of immunity urged by the governor," he said.
Defense attorney Steve Pitt said during the hearing Friday that the governor was willing to face a jury.
"In some ways, that may be personally preferable, but there are other considerations as well which lead to the motion to dismiss. That is the important need of this state to return to normalcy, and get back to the operation of government as it should be without the cloud hanging over it of this unprecedented criminal case," he said.
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