More clues as to why JeffCo attorney was put on paid leave - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

More clues as to why JeffCo attorney was put on paid leave

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Jefferson County commissioners will go into executive session Thursday to discuss attorney Jeff Sewell's future. Tuesday, they gave more explanations about several issues leading up to the decision to put him on leave.

Some commissioners were not happy with publicly being notified about possible violations of the county manager act by over reaching in their power. But they say it wasn't about that.

A familiar face and fixture at Jefferson County Commission meetings was missing Tuesday.

It's no secret lead attorney Jeff Sewell has butted heads with others at the table. He even notified them of a possible violation of the county manager act last week.

"I think the issues with Mr. Sewell are cumulative. This was in no way retaliation to that," said Commissioner Joe Knight.

Commission President David Carrington made the decision to put him on paid leave Monday.

"I would stand by my statement- there's been multiple issues on multiple fronts. I am not sure if I would characterize those issues as butting of heads," said Carrington.

He wouldn't directly say what the issues were.

"The county attorney works for the county. The county attorney can't approve any settlement, can't approve any litigation, can't hire outside attorneys, can't fire outside attorneys, can't retain outside consultants," said Carrington.

When asked if any of that happened, he said, "I'm not going to comment."

Commissioner Jimmie Stephens did comment on his red flags namely not often presenting all legal options available. He gave an example.

"We need to have an economic development agreement in order for the county to move forward in order to grow out of bankruptcy and you have advice that says we aren't going to do that," said Stephens. "Sometimes the advice seemed to be self-initiating."

A decision is expected to be made about Sewell's future in about a week. Until then, most commissioners believe the other three county attorneys can handle the legal work.

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