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Government, Politics & Issues

Ousted Lincoln County Clerk May Get Her Job Back Nearly Two Years Later

Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Karla Allsberry
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Karla Allsberry
Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Karla Allsberry could be returning to office after a long legal fight.

Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Karla Allsberry may be close to getting back into her office, 21 months after sheriff’s deputies escorted her out.

Circuit Judge Richard G. Callahan ruled Monday that Allsberry was improperly placed on administrative leave by Lincoln County Presiding Circuit Judge Patrick Flynn in May 2019. Callahan ruled that Flynn didn’t have such authority over an elected circuit clerk.

Flynn has claimed in various court filings, and in a letter to Allsberry in May 2019, that she had acted inappropriately with staff and handling some duties of the job, since she had taken office in January 2019. That’s why he forced her removal from her physical office, though she is still being paid.

Allsberry had denied any wrongdoing, and her allies claimed that she was being punished by Flynn because Allsberry, a Republican, had defeated the longtime Democratic incumbent circuit clerk in November 2018. Flynn is a Democrat.

Flynn has denied the ouster was politically motivated. He did not immediately comment on the ruling Monday.

Allsberry said in a statement that she was “very gratified’’ by Callahan’s decision. “I am very eager to get back to the job that the people elected me to do. As soon as Judge Flynn honors Judge Callahan’s judgment, I will return to my office,” she said.

It’s unclear whether Flynn will allow Allsberry back into her office. Callahan’s ruling states that he can’t order Flynn to do so, hinting that a higher court might need to step in.

Flynn and Allsberry also are entwined in two other fights in state and federal courts.

The Lincoln County case has been closely watched in Missouri legal circles, and there’s already talk of proposed legislation in Jefferson City to clarify the powers of elected circuit clerks. Most Missouri counties have elected circuit clerks.

The Flynn-Allsberry case has strong political overtones. Several years ago, Flynn lost an associate judgeship post to Allsberry’s husband, Associate Judge Gregory Allsberry. Flynn later was elected to a different judgeship.

Callahan took note of the political backdrop in his ruling but observed that the real issue in the case dealt with state laws regarding the powers of judges and circuit clerks.

Follow Jo on Twitter: @jmannies

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