Steve Nunn's attorney withdraws from former lawmaker's civil lawsuit

gkocher1@herald-leader.comMay 11, 2012 

The London lawyer who has represented former state lawmaker Steve Nunn in criminal and civil matters since 2009 was allowed to withdraw Friday as Nunn's counsel.

Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael approved Warren Scoville's motion to withdraw. Scoville had no comment on the withdrawal after a Friday morning proceeding.

As grounds for the withdrawal, Scoville wrote in a motion that Nunn is "currently incarcerated and unable to pay his attorney fees."

Nunn is serving a sentence of life without parole. He pleaded guilty in June 2011 to intentional murder with an aggravating circumstance in the Sept. 11, 2009, shooting death of Amanda Ross, his former fiancée.

Ross, 28, was found shot while in the parking lot outside her home at Opera House Square townhouses in downtown Lexington. She was pronounced dead at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital. Nunn was arrested a few hours later.

In another matter, Ishmael rejected a motion for partial summary judgment in a 2009 wrongful-death lawsuit against Nunn.

Lucy Pett, the attorney for Ross's mother, Diana Ross, asked for a partial summary judgment. Her argument is that Nunn's guilty plea establishes his liability.

But Ishmael cited a Kentucky rule of civil procedure that says if a prisoner fails or is unable to defend an action, the court shall appoint a practicing attorney as guardian ad litem, and no judgment shall be rendered until that guardian has made a defense or filed a report stating that he or she is unable to make a defense.

The rule is designed to prevent default judgments against prisoners.

Pett said in court that Nunn is "not unable to make a defense. ... We think summary judgment is appropriate."

But Ishmael said he would "feel a little bit better" if a guardian for the suit was appointed. The judge did not indicate when he will make the appointment.

Also Friday, Fayette Circuit Judge Thomas Clark granted a motion to consolidate the 2009 wrongful-death lawsuit with a 2010 lawsuit in which Diana Ross alleges that Opera House Square allowed Nunn to gain access to her daughter after Amanda Ross told them she had an active emergency protective order against him.

Diana Ross seeks an undetermined amount of money for injuries and damages.

The two cases were consolidated for discovery purposes so all lawyers have the same documents and evidence. Both lawsuits involve the same basic question of liability for the death of Amanda Ross, and they will share the same evidence and witnesses.

Nunn served in the state legislature from 1991 through 2006 and was a former Republican gubernatorial candidate. The son of the late Gov. Louie B. Nunn, Steve Nunn resigned his position as deputy secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services after Amanda Ross successfully sought a domestic violence order of protection against him.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305.Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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