The Leon County attorney says it's an old English law that has saved the taxpayers from picking up some of the legal fees of former Commissioner Rudy Maloy.
It's called "sovereign immunity.”
Herb Thiele, a Leon County attorney, says, "The state and its local governments are protected from lawsuits completely. Now the state Legislature can wave that, and it did up to $100,000 for local government, but it's limited to negligence cases."
Maloy was accused and cleared of sexual misconduct in a criminal court and before an ethics judge. After he was cleared he asked his fellow commissioners to pay his almost $700,000 in legal fees. They said no, and now a judge has ruled in the county's favor.
Herb Thiele says, "At least as it relates to the ethics case, the ethics case involves about $200,000 in fees that were generated to defend Mr. Maloy, so that was a separate lawsuit from the criminal case."
Cliff Thaell, Leon County Commission Chair, says, "We're very pleased. It establishes a framework for future issues where a commissioner may or may not want to ask the county to pay their legal bills."
Tony Grippa of the Leon County Commission says, "I'm convinced the taxpayers bear no responsibility for these bills, so I am very happy the judge ruled the way he did. I'm proud of our county attorney and the County Commission for standing by the taxpayers of Leon County."