KENTUCKY HAS ADOPTED A STATUTORY SYSTEM FOR PAYMENT OF CIVIL CLAIM AWARDS AGAINST PROSECUTORS
Independence attorney Eric Deters has filed two separate lawsuits on behalf of two different clients against Kenton Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders. If a judgment is actually entered against Sanders, he most likely will be protected financially by KRS 15.753 which provides for compensation against civil judgments rendered against Kentucky prosecutors.
(The following is an excerpt from Prosecutorial Accountability a book authored by retired Judge Stan Billingsley and published by LawReader Press. The book is available from LawReader at 314 7th. St., Carrollton, Ky. 41008 – or call 502-732-4617)
“The Kentucky Legislature has adopted legislation which makes the state liable for any damage award for acts of a prosecutor which occurred within the scope of his authority and done in good faith. This statute provides for compensation to be paid a civil litigate who successfully sues a prosecutor and obtains a judgment. Having done that, however, they added Section (5) which, when caselaw is applied, makes this virtually impossible. Current Kentucky caselaw imposes absolute immunity for acts, regardless of their legality, if they were done within the scope of the prosecutors role as an advocate.
KRS 15.753 Indemnification from financial loss in legal actions for Attorney General, Commonwealth’s attorneys, county attorneys, and their staffs.
(1) This section shall apply to:
(a) The Attorney General and his staff;
(b) A county attorney and his staff; and
(c) A Commonwealth’s attorney and his staff.
(2) A person named in subsection (1) of this section who is sued for any act or omission in the course of his duties and who has a judgment for monetary damages rendered against him and who personally suffers actual financial loss, unreimbursed from any source, by the enforcement and satisfaction of the judgment, including any costs or attorney’s fees awarded pursuant thereto, shall be indemnified by the Commonwealth from funds appropriated to the Finance and Administration Cabinet for the payment of judgments, to the extent of his actual financial loss.
(3) The indemnification shall be contingent upon an express determination by the Prosecutor’s Advisory Council that the act or omission which resulted in liability was within the scope and course of the officer’s employment and occurred during the performance of duty and was committed or omitted in the good faith belief that the act or omission was lawful and proper.
(4) If the officer seeking indemnification is the Attorney General, the determination referred to in subsection (3) of this section shall be made by the Governor.
(5) The indemnification shall not be construed to abrogate or limit any privilege, immunity, or matter of defense otherwise available to the person claiming indemnification and shall not constitute a waiver of any privilege, immunity, or matter or defense including the sovereign immunity of the Commonwealth.
(6) The indemnification shall not be the subject of comment, directly or indirectly, before any jury hearing any cause of action in which the Attorney General, a county or Commonwealth’s attorney, or a member of their staff is a party, and any comment before the jury shall result in an immediate mistrial.
Effective: July 15, 1994″.