Move by Judges Swaim and Westhoff aims to remove appointing authority over deputy clerks from Judge Steele

Second Judicial Circuit associate judges Kristie Swaim and Fred Westhoff filed papers with the Circuit Court Budget Committee aimed at restoring Circuit Clerk Linda Decker's authority over the circuit's deputy clerks.

The document, filed Tuesday, seeks to have the May 2, 2013 amendment that transferred those powers to Presiding Judge Russell Steele "rescinded, repealed and revoked."

Appointing authority over deputy clerks is the issue at the heart of a lawsuit filed by former deputy clerk Susan Gall against Steele, who ordered her employment terminated effective Oct. 31, 2013. The lawsuit alleges Steele violated Gall's rights and that Gall instead recognized Decker as her supervisor.

Decker, as Circuit Clerk, had appointing authority over deputy clerks according to a 2008 consolidation of clerical functions of the Circuit Court of Adair County. That agreement was amended last May, when Steele, Westhoff (of Lewis County) and Associate Judge William Alberty (of Knox County) voted to transfer appointing authority to Steele.

That order was then approved by the state's Circuit Court Budget Committee.

Swaim opposed that order and Westhoff said recently he may regret his decision.

According to the 2008 consolidation, amendments can be made by a majority vote of the "court en banc," which includes Steele, Swaim, Westhoff and Alberty.

Swaim and Westhoff were not available for comment.