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As victims continue to come forward in the Youth Explorer case, the last remaining obstacle is trying to figure out if Yates can legally represent them in court.
Council President David Yates is also the attorney for victims in the case, and Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell says that’s a conflict of interest for Yates almost like suing himself.
“This is one of the most serious cases that’s ever come to this jurisdiction in respect to this matter,” said O’Donnell.
“This is grandstanding at its best, judge,” said Tad Thomas. “It’s very clear they want to get into attorney client privilege information.”
Regardless if it was a conflict of interest, or grandstanding, Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman made it clear she wasn’t going to put up with a war of words between David Yates and Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell.
“This is not a barnyard,” said Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman. “That is an inappropriate exercise of the ability to subpoena someone.”
But that didn’t stop both sides from trying to ruffle each other’s feathers as to whether Yates should represent the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the city while he serves as Metro Council president.
“You know how the system works, right,” asked O’Connell. “As president of the council, you know how money flows, how budgets are done, how appropriations for settlements come about. You know that don’t you?”
“I know that metro council doesn’t approve personal injury cases, and we never have, not one time since we’ve been there,” said Yates. “So, no I don’t know how that works.”
“Don’t you try to get money,” said O’Connell. “You made a $6-million demand to Metro Government to settle this case. You wanted money.”
“I will advocate for my client in all of the best means that I can,” said Yates. “What I wanted to do in this case is make sure the bad people go to prison.”
“Does anything in your answer have anything to do or explain the fact that you wanted $6-million of which you’re going to receive a portion of it in your answer,” said O’Connell. “You question is? You’re going to get paid!”
“I was worried about him hurting himself,” said Yates. “He had gone years without getting treatment because no one turned it over to child protective services when they should of.”
After the judge stepped in the county moved their attention to their expert witness, law professor Vincent Johnson who is firmly against Yates working against the city in the case despite the fact that the Kentucky Bar approved the move.
“I think these are real conflicts of interest,” said Vincent Johnson. “I think they currently exist.”
“Would you agree that the Kentucky bar association is in the best position to interpret its own rules,” asked Thomas.
“They’re certainly in a good position,” said Johnson. “I wouldn’t say they’re in the best.”
The judge declined a motion for a directed verdict after the county rested its case, saying that she wanted to hear things out.
Both sides will be back in court on October 18.