Politics & Government

Hearing set on releasing report by jury on hiring

FRANKFORT - A judge will hold a closed-door hearing Nov. 15 to hear any objections to his making public the report from the special Franklin County grand jury that has been investigating hiring practices of Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration.

Chief Franklin Circuit Judge Reed Rhorer said in an order issued Tuesday that he will make the grand jury report available to the parties involved -- Fletcher, Attorney General Greg Stumbo and former Franklin Circuit Judge William L. Graham -- at 9 a.m. that day.

He said the report will remain in chambers and no copies of it are to be removed from the Franklin County Courthouse. He also said "no comment is to be made to outside parties until after this court has heard from the parties to this action and issued its rulings."

Rhorer scheduled a 3 p.m. hearing for Nov. 15 to consider any objections.

He has said he will make the report public if no objections are filed. He has not indicated when he might rule if there are objections. It is possible that any of the parties involved might appeal any ruling from the hearing.

Assistant Attorney General Scott Crawford-Sutherland, who has been working with the grand jury since its inception in June 2005, said last month when the report was filed that he did not think anybody would object to its release.

Jim Deckard, Fletcher's general counsel, had no immediate comment on Rhorer's order. He said last month that he could not say whether there will be any objections to the report because the governor's defense team has not yet seen it.

The special grand jury began investigating state hiring decisions in June 2005. It charged Fletcher in May with three criminal misdemeanors -- conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination. But the charges were dropped in August when Fletcher and Stumbo agreed to a settlement.

The jury indicted 15 people, including Fletcher, and returned 14 indictments that remain sealed.

A higher court has said the jury could not name in its final report persons who had been pardoned by Fletcher a year ago or who had not been indicted. Fletcher's broad pardon covered people indicted by the grand jury, excluding himself.