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Attorney May Get Contract Extension
March 26, 2008 - The town of Knightstown could find out today whether or not its current legal counsel is willing to continue on in that role another 90 days while the town council considers whether to hire someone else.
In January, attorney David Copenhaver and his New Castle firm agreed to a 90-day extension of their legal services contract with the town, which had expired at the end of 2007. At last Wednesday's meeting of the Knightstown Town Council meeting, he was asked to consider agreeing to stay on for another 90 days.
Council Vice President Terry Guerin raised the issue, noting that the first extension would be expiring soon. He made a motion to extend the contract with Copenhaver and his firm an additional 30 days.
"Since it's not just my decision to make, let me talk it over with my partners and I'll get back with you," Copenhaver told the council.
Before Guerin's motion was seconded and put to a vote, council member Clyde South amended it to offer another 90-day extension of the contract, saying he thought more time was needed to find a new attorney. Council member Bob Weber said he agreed that 30 days seemed like a short period of time.
With no other attorneys interviewed yet, South said he was not convinced the council could do all it needs to do in just 30 days. With a 90-day extension, he said the council would be less likely to find itself in a situation where it's necessary to extend the contract again.
While he also agreed more than 30 days was needed, council member Steve Nelson didn't think South's proposed 90-day extension was sufficient either. "I question our continuance," he said. "I think that, in fairness, we didn't hold up our end of the bargain. If we're going to do that, it is my feeling that we should ask him to continue until the end of the year."
When it came time to vote, Council President Valerie Trump voted with South and Weber in favor of offering Copenhaver and his firm another 90-day extension. Guerin and Nelson, who held divergent views on the issue, both voted against the amended motion.
After the vote, Copenhaver addressed the council. "We want to see good things for Knightstown," he said. "We want Knightstown to be well represented. We want to do the very best for the community.
"What we don't want is to have your choice of counsel be a problem to the town," Copenhaver continued. "You should all have a lawyer or law firm that you all have confidence in and that you all feel good about. It is not uncommon for new council or a new administration … to want a fresh start and a fresh voice at a new firm. So, that doesn't bother us at all."
Copenhaver told the council that he and his law partners were scheduled to have a business meeting today and that he would discuss the proposed contract extension with them. He said he would contact Trump after the meeting and give her an answer.
The town has received information from at least four attorneys interested in providing the town with legal representation. Those attorneys are Bill Baker (New Castle), Greg Morelock (Greenfield), Chuck Todd (Cambride City) and Mike Wallman (Indianapolis).
CORRECTION PUBLISHED IN APRIL 2, 2008 ISSUE: "On pages 1 and 3 of the March 26 Banner, Knightstown Town Council member Terry Guerin was mistakenly referred to as the council's vice president, a position that is, in fact, held by council member Clyde South. The Banner apologizes for these errors and any confusion or inconvenience they may have caused." - Ed.
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