We’ve written at length
about Fifth Division Judge Willard Proctor and his Cycle Breakers
probation program. On March 20, in response to inquiries by Proctor, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel
handed down a pair of opinions regarding the way Cycle Breakers handles their money. Those opinions have already resulted in changes for County Clerk Pat O’Brien
More on the jump...
In response to Proctor's first question -- regarding whether circuit clerks have the right to collect fees paid by court probationers -- AG Dustin McDaniel sides with Proctor and Cycle Breakers, saying that a Circuit Clerk's office is not allowed to collect fees paid by probationers, only what can be classified as “fines.” The PuCo Clerk’s office has been collecting fees and fines paid by Cycle Breakers probationers since soon after the release of a state audit of Cycle Breakers in June 2007. County Clerk Pat O’Brien reports that Proctor issued an order on Monday stating that the Clerk’s office would no longer be collecting fees for Cycle Breakers. O’Brien said that his office would continue to collect fines, court costs, and payments for drug screens from Fifth Division probationers.
The AG’s second opinion seems to be a strike for Cycle Breakers, with McDaniel opining that an ordinance suggested by Proctor that would allow Cycle Breakers to financially compensate county employees for work as Cycle Breakers group leaders, drivers and counselors doesn’t “reflect any type of contractual agreement” between county employees and Cycle Breakers, and would make it “unclear whether the county employees in question would be performing the services as a part of the duties of their public position, or in a private capacity through a separate agreement or contract with Cycle Breakers, Inc.”
The desire to pay and reimburse county employees out of the Cycle Breakers till has been a long-running quest for Proctor. Back in July 2007, Proctor — via JP Mary Louise Williams — put two proposed resolutions before the PuCo Quorum Court that would have allowed compensation and reimbursement for county employees from Cycle Breakers funds for services to Cycle Breakers and for “tuition, training, meetings, and other classes that they attended to further their qualifications, skills or education.” On Aug. 14, the Quorum Court rejected the first resolution, and Williams withdrew the other.
Read the AG's full opinion here