Practices get underway for fall sports Jays soon to begin quest for SHAC title Western Brown to hold Meet the Teams Night and OHSAA parent meeting Aug. 8 Norville F Hardyman Carol J Tracy James Witt Ripley officer receives commendation for quick action Bicentennial at Ripley First Presbyterian RULH welcomes new school principals Aberdeen’s Police Dept. continues to grow Mary F McElroy Broncos out to defend SBAAC American Division soccer title Bronco 5K to take place Aug. 5 EHS volleyball team ready for new season Michael C Cooper Raymond Mays Harry E Smittle Jr Mary A Flaugher Western Brown’s Leto excels in Australia Rockets ready for 1st season in SBAAC Paddling, hiking activities available at Ohio State Parks SB Warriors get set to hit gridiron for 2nd year of varsity football Scotty W Johnson Glenna V Moertle Rickey L Hoffer Ruth E Ward David A Watson Janet L Dotson Vilvie S King Steven C Utter Cropper joins Fallis at Bethel-Tate Local kids find success in world of martial arts 13th annual Bronco 5K Run and Fitness Walk set for Aug. 5 Teams compete in memory of Randy Fulton Mike W Smith Roger Helton David A Borders Timothy E Argenbright Joseph W Sherrill Frances K Pedigo Water distribution plans for Ripley move forward Historic Trapp and Wilson building sold RULH graduate wins HFR Scholarship Blanche Malblanc Pauline L Kirk Over 70 take part in 11th Joe Myers 5K Classic Lions Club 4th of July Festival brings outdoor fun to Ripley ODNR reminds visitors to swim safe this summer Changes in high school track and field/cross country rules include school issued and approved uniforms Betty L Philpott Judy B Williams Billie J Russell Remembering Ravye 25 attend volleyball camp in Fayetteville Western Brown hosts Pee Wee Football Camp Eugene L Baumann RULH selects Wilkins as new superintendent Corps of Engineer to study erosion issue in Ripley More funds available through Revolving Loans Jack Hamilton Charles L Glover Maxine M Stires Western Brown youth basketball camps a success Leto to represent Team USA in Australia Broncos hard at work in preparation for fall season Eastern approves bowling team Phyllis Ruth Lois A Manley Eddie L Carr Thomas L Carnahan Cameron Barkley Walter J McGee Gary J Graham George D Johnson Walter F Crawford Jr Charles E Meranda Jr Historic home in Ripley is sold following renovations Hyde finds home at Midway Youngsters work to improve on hoop skills at Eastern basketball camps Sizer named All-District Honorable Mention Western Brown’s Barnes earns All-State, All-District honors Local players compete in SWOFCA Ron Woyan East/West All-Star Game 6th annual Ravye Williams Memorial 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament set for June 24 Clarence E Teal Rosie B Poe Monard C Boots James P Conrad James T Dinser Scott J Swearingen Eastern’s Farris earns award for top 2-point field percentage in Ohio Georgetown’s Seigla earns All-District honors OHSAA announces 2017 football regions and playoffs format Western Brown volleyball camps a success with over 100 in attendance Rigdon finishes high school running career with 10th place finish at state track and field championship meet Grace E Fite Students speak out in support of Skinner Ripley Council to pay half the cost for Air Evac services John McGee Timmy Burson Patricia A London

Coroner, county at odds again

Thomas Eagle, left, and Brown County Coroner Dr. Judith Varnau, appear in court in this file photo.

Brown County Coroner Dr. Judith Varnau is likely heading back to court again, though this time it’s over a dispute for her attorney’s legal fees.

Varnau’s attorney, Thomas Eagle, is requesting more than $18,000 in additional compensation from the Brown County Commissioners for his work defending Varnau in Steve Adamson et. al. v. Judith Varnau, which went through both the Brown County Court of Common Pleas and Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals.

The commissioners, who have paid Eagle $10,800 for his work defending Varnau in the trial court, have countered by claiming that $4,000 is a reasonable compensation for Eagle’s work during the appeal process.

Eagle and the commissioners met recently to try and hash out terms but were unable to reach an agreement, leading to the latest legal maneuvers.

“We’ve come to an impasse over the amount the funds should be, and we’ll let the court resolve that,” Eagle told The Ripley Bee.

On June 19, the commissioners’ attorney, John Woliver, filed a memorandum in response to a motion filed on June 2 by Eagle to recoup fees he believes are unpaid. In Eagle’s motion, he claims the commissioners owe him the entirety of the 29,950.58 in billable hours, of which only 10,800 has been paid, but the commissioners stated they believe the extra $18,150.58 Eagle claims is owed to him is an unreasonable amount.

The commissioners’ memorandum states they’re only willing to pay $4,000 on top of the $10,800 already paid, citing a Brown County Court of Common Pleas order to hire a special prosecuting attorney for Varnau that is at the “discretion of the board of county commissioners,” including terms and fees.

“The appeal, considering that the issues were not terribly substantial on the appeal and he did do the trial so he was familiar with the issues, facts, and evidence, we thought that $4,000 was a reasonable upper limit to put on this,” Woliver told the Bee. “It also recognizes that the commissioners don’t have this massive pocket of which to pay public officials attorneys as they do what seems to be intra-county battles, which are more personality and ego and self benefit than anything.”

The commissioners originally agreed with Eagle to pay him a maximum of $10,000 for the trial court work, but they gave him an additional $800 for his work anyway.

“We let him have a little override on the $800, but he’s wanting that $18,000 to cover the appeals court case that he had,” Brown County Commissioner Daryll Gray told the Bee. ” We’re not willing to pay that and we went back and told him he had to get a court order for that. We said we’ll give him $4,000, we were advised on that.”

The motions are filed in connection with the now-defeated complaint against Varnau filed by Steve Adamson and his family on April 16, 2014. The Adamsons alleged that Varnau committed multiple cases of misfeasance, nonfeasance, and malfeasance in her position as county coroner, and they asked for the Brown County Court of Common Pleas to remove her from her position.

After a two-day trial in May 2014, visiting Judge John Kessler ruled in favor of the coroner. On July 22, the Adamsons, through their lawyer, Tracy Hawkins, filed an appeal to the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals. A trial was held on Nov. 18, 2014, and the court of appeals made its decision on Dec. 30, ruling again in favor of the coroner and asking for the case to be dismissed.

Prior to the start of the trial, Kessler approved a request from Brown County Prosecutor Jessica Little to recuse herself due to conflicts of interest, and instead allow the commissioners to appoint a special prosecutor, citing Ohio Revised Code statutes 305.14 (A) and 309.09.

The commissioners agreed to let Varnau retain Eagle as her lawyer, but only pay him at a rate of $180 per hour, as opposed to Eagle’s standard rate of $235 per hour.

In Eagle’s motion, he states that the court of common pleas ordered he be retained and after working both the defenses in the trial court and appeals court, Eagle feels he should be compensated fully. He’s asking for another $18,150.58 from the county.

In the main body of the commissioner’s memorandum memorandum, which is titled “Defendant (Varnau) does not possess an unlimited right to be compensated for her attorney fees in an amount set by defendant or her attorney,” Woliver states that the commissioners don’t have unlimited resources for Varnau’s legal fees, having spent $12,500 in private legal fees for legal battles between Varnau’s husband Dennis and the Brown County Sheriff Dwayne Wenninger.

The commissioners’ memorandum requests for the court to agree that the rate of $180 per hour and maximum limit of $4,000 is reasonable.

Woliver believes the case is likely to go to court. If and when it does, Kessler would sit on the bench for the trial.

Reach Daniel Karell at 937-378-6161. Follow him on Twitter @GNDKarell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© Copyright The Ripley Bee