Politics & Government

Grand jury in personnel case coming close to finishing

FRANKFORT - The work of the special Franklin County grand jury that indicted Gov. Ernie Fletcher on criminal misdemeanor charges of violating state personnel laws is winding down.

Assistant Attorney General Scott Crawford-Sutherland, the prosecutor who has been working with the grand jury since it started in June 2005, said yesterday it probably will meet "at least a couple more times" to finish a report of its investigative findings.

The grand jury can meet through mid-November without asking the court for more time to work.

A grand jury report would have to be submitted to Franklin Circuit Judge Reed Rhorer. Parties can file objections to it, and then the court would determine what could be made public.

Yesterday's meeting of the grand jury was its first since Fletcher and Attorney General Greg Stumbo announced Aug. 24 the dismissal of the charges against the governor.

Fletcher said he accepted responsibility for inappropriate personnel actions in his administration, but maintained he was cleared of any wrongdoing and his conscience is clear.

Crawford-Sutherland said the dismissal of the charges against Fletcher might have prevented "a death blow" to public-corruption cases.

He said prosecutors were concerned the courts could have expanded how much executive immunity a governor or other elected official might have in criminal cases.

Crawford-Sutherland declined to say whether the special grand jury will call any more witnesses or will turn over its findings to federal investigators.