The Gazette Editorial Board
Linn County Auditor Joel Miller’s legal fight with the Board of Supervisors has gone on too long. It’s cost too much. The District Court’s ruling in favor of the supervisors was a sweeping defeat for Miller. It’s been a frustrating saga.
But under our system of justice, Miller has the right to appeal. And we believe the supervisors made the wrong call in refusing to provide county dollars to pay for it.
The supervisors are not an appellate court, so their judgment on whether Miller’s appeal has merit is immaterial. They are a party in the lawsuit, and in a counter suit they filed. The board is basically attempting to discourage Miller’s appeal by refusing to pay for his continued legal representation, an action based on advice from the county attorney’s office, which is the board’s counsel.
Miller is pursuing his argument that, as auditor, he should be allowed to audit the purchases he authorizes. It’s a public policy issue, and its pursuit should be paid for with public dollars, not from the auditor’s wallet. Miller’s chances for success on appeal should not be a factor. It’s an uphill climb, to be sure. But District Court rulings are routinely overturned, even, on occasion, sweeping ones.
Fatigue and frustration must not override the necessity for fairness. The supervisors should reverse their decision.
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