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County Commission drafts ordinance regarding county attorneys

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- There's a controversy at the County Commission as leaders are at odds over legal representation.

Some commissioners have been vocal about the need for the board to have its own attorney, saying that sharing a lawyer with the mayor's office can be a conflict of interest.

"Besides having to take it to a referendum vote and amend the charter, this is the best way I think both the administration and County Commission can be assured that the County Attorney's office will be neutral," said Commissioner Van Turner.

It's no secret the County Commission has been fighting to make sure they have equal legal representation in relation to the Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell's Office.

"The Commission is for lack of better terms Shelby County. We are the closest to the constituent," said Commissioner Terry Roland.

Shelby County Commissioner Turner told WREG the way the charter reads now the County Commission and mayor's office can't have their own attorneys. But some commissioners are working on an amendment now that would give the commission a say in the termination of attorneys working under the County Attorney.

"Having the ability to have a say so as it relates to a reprimand or termination of those attorneys working in that office I think sort of negates this whole concept of we need our own attorney," he said.

Turner said the commission having a say would ensure all legal advice is neutral.

"I think it just gives them peace of mind. It gives I think the County Commission peace of mind and administration peace of mind because we know we're getting the best legal advice possible," explained Turner.

The ordinance will be reviewed by a committee and should go before the commission for a second reading in a few weeks. The ordinance needs to be read three times in order to go into affect.

Mayor Luttrell said he will issue a comment after the commission votes on the matter.

Another issue that will be on the November ballot is in regards to the county attorney as well. According to Turner when the mayor appoints the county attorney the commission ratifies that decision. However, as of now they do not have a say if the county attorney is fired. The commission wants a voice in that as well.