St. Louis Public Radio News
5:20 am
Wed November 12, 2008

Mo. Supreme Court hears retirement lawsuit

Jefferson City, MO – Do state employees have a legal right to access county retirement funds? That question was before the Missouri Supreme Court today.

Three state juvenile justice officers with the Jefferson County Circuit Court are suing the state.

Gilbert Alderson, Joseph Polette and Theodore Allen, Jr., claim that since the court appointed them to work as officers for Jefferson County, they meet the legal definition of county employees, and thus are eligible to receive county retirement benefits.

They lost their initial suit against the state, and today's hearing before the High Court was an appeal.

All three are represented by attorney Ted Allen.

"We were singled out because of our appointment by the judiciary, rather than being appointed by the prosecuting attorney, recorder of deeds, or another agency of county government...although the statute now specifically does call us county employees for all purposes but the County Employment Retirement Fund," Allen said.

Ed Downey, attorney for the County Employment Retirement Fund, disputed the plaintiffs' position, citing an earlier case involving a Mr. Stanley Smith.

"Mr. Smith, in the normal sense of the word, is employed by the state, employed by the court...if Mr. Smith had received instruction from a county official, he would have ignored it," Downey said.

The State Supreme Court will issue its ruling at a later date.

If the High Court overturns the lower court ruling, Allen says other state juvenile officers across Missouri could gain access to county retirement funds.