Clerk seeks clarification - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Clerk seeks clarification

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Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 12:00 am

Kootenai County Clerk Cliff Hayes wants some clarification on who has the power to hire, fire, authorize wage increases and evaluate the performance of employees working in the court system who are paid with county funds.

He believes he has that authority, concerning bailiffs, security screeners, judicial state attorneys, and specialty court coordinators and trial court administrative assistants. But he hasn't been exercising it.

That's because 1st District Court Judge John Mitchell signed an administrative order telling Hayes not to.

"An administrative order is very strong, because you go to jail if you don't follow it," Hayes said Monday.

On Friday, Hayes filed a lawsuit in 1st District Court seeking clarification through the court system.

Mitchell declined to comment because of the pending lawsuit.

Hayes filed a petition with the Idaho Supreme Court, regarding the same question, but the court dismissed his petition, court documents show.

Hayes said Mitchell, or the district court judges together, have responsibility for day-to-day management. But as state employees, they are not responsible for hiring, firing, wage increases and evaluations.

He said he makes the county's District Court budget, so he should have those powers.

He said a judge from another district likely will have to rule on the question.

Last year, Hayes said he wrote a letter to Mitchell, but didn't immediately receive a response on the subject.

Mitchell responded by administrative order, Hayes said.

According to the court documents, filed by Hayes' attorney Malcolm Dymkoski of Coeur d'Alene, trial court administrator Karlene Behringer has been responsible for determining increases in compensation for court bailiffs, court security personnel, judicial staff attorneys, specialty court coordinators, and Behringer's own assistant.

Like the judges, Behringer is a state employee, Hayes said.

Behringer was called Monday, and Patti Tobias, administrative director of the courts in Idaho, responded. She said she wouldn't comment while the lawsuit is pending.

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  • local res posted at 10:14 pm on Tue, Oct 30, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1162

    If the court system is a state court, are the employees working for the county and not the state? Is this any different than the probation office that are up for election? Like Randy I will be voting no on streamlining the commission position.

  • MixMart posted at 7:02 pm on Tue, Oct 30, 2012.

    MixMart Posts: 1023

    Why is a private attorney, Mal Dymkowski, representing the clerk of the court and not Kootenai County Legal Services? Could it be that County Legal Services advised against this action? Is the county paying Mr. Dymkowski and if so, how much? In a time of austerity, hiring private counsel instead of using the county attorneys charged with representing elected officials is a waste of money. Moreover, the law is settled that the Supreme Court has the final say in how court houses are run. This is frivolous.
    Hayes' ego cost Post Falls a lot of money and trouble. Looks like he's doing the same to the county.

  • LTRLTR posted at 4:18 pm on Tue, Oct 30, 2012.

    LTRLTR Posts: 1171

    Good comments Jeffrey Wherley!

    I appreciate everything our Kootenai County Clerk is doing to improve the accountabiltiy of the office the people elected him too. This is another good reason to vote "NO" on changing how the County does business.

  • ancientemplar posted at 10:10 am on Tue, Oct 30, 2012.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1146

    Randy, no place does it identify supervisory responsibility. I would suggest in the strongest sense that responsibility flow with corresponding authority and since the budget responsibility rests with the clerk then so does the authority for the expenditures, including salary. If this is not the case then the goals are unattainable.

  • LTRLTR posted at 8:11 am on Tue, Oct 30, 2012.

    LTRLTR Posts: 1171

    Copied from the County website that states the State of Idaho has seven judicial districts:

    "The state of Idaho is divided into seven judicial districts, each with an Administrative District Judge who is chosen by the other district judges in the district and a Trial Court Administrator (TCA) who is selected jointly by the Administrative District Judge and the Administrative Director of the State Courts."

    Anyone....Do you approve a State Employee spending Kootenai County funds?

  • LTRLTR posted at 7:40 am on Tue, Oct 30, 2012.

    LTRLTR Posts: 1171


    Cliff Hayes brings up a good point that the Judges are employees of the State. And should State Employees supervise County Employees and spend County Budgets?

  • SamuelStanding posted at 7:36 am on Tue, Oct 30, 2012.

    SamuelStanding Posts: 481

    than a person with "Little man syndrom". Heavy handed administration chases away good and seasoned employees. This man left the police department in Post Falls without a "Come on back now!" compliment. He really needs oversight!

  • SamuelStanding posted at 7:35 am on Tue, Oct 30, 2012.

    SamuelStanding Posts: 481

    Frivolous lawsuits are a waste of the Court's and Tax Payer's money. This is PRECISELY the reason I feel we should not give any more power to a control freak like Cliff Hayes. He is NOTHING MORE

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