[JURIST] A judge in Kentucky [JURIST news archive] ruled Friday that executive immunity protects Gov. Ernie Fletcher [official website] from prosecution for alleged corrupt hiring practices while he is in office. Fletcher pleaded not guilty [JURIST] in June to charges [indictment, PDF; JURIST report] of criminal conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination stemming from an investigation into the governor's hiring practices [timeline]. Special Judge David Melcher on Friday stayed the case until Fletcher leaves office, either when his term expires or the legislature impeaches him. Fletcher plans to seek a second term and will remain under indictment throughout his campaign.
The indictment alleges that Fletcher and other members of his administration delved into past political affiliations and contributions of government job candidates, rather than basing hiring practices on merit as the law requires. Possible penalties for Fletcher range from six months to a year in jail and a $500 fine. AP has more. From Louisville, Courier-Journal has local coverage.