VOL. 133 | NO. 93 | Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Bolton Legal Bills Kept Under Wraps
By Bill Dries
Shelby County commissioners appeared on their way to a public records controversy before a Wednesday special meeting on a potential veto override.
The new controversy emerged Tuesday, May 8, as two un-named county commissioners requested to see how much former county commissioner Julian Bolton has billed the county in legal fees as the commission’s legislative policy advisor.
County Mayor Mark Luttrell vetoed Bolton’s reappointment by commission chairwoman Heidi Shafer. The commission meets at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in special session to consider overriding the veto.
Shafer said the legal billing records will be available for commissioners only to view on a spread sheet in her office Wednesday morning from 8 a.m. to noon.
Shafer claimed in the email response that Bolton’s work, including his billing records, are privileged.
“It is important to ensure that the potentially sensitive nature of his legislative policy work on behalf of this body as well as individual commissioners is held securely,” Shafer wrote. “Because this is privileged information, no third party (non-commission member currently) may receive this information by phone, text, photo, verbal transmission or in any other method.”
The Tennessee Comptroller’s office, in its “quick guide to public records and open meetings acts in Tennessee” says it is “important to remember that not all attorney-client communications are confidential.”
“The communication has to involve the subject matter of the representation and be made with the intent that the communication be kept confidential.”
Legal billing records have been considered public record in the past. The Commercial Appeal requested and got legal billing records of attorney Ricky E. Wilkins in 2008 for legal work he had done for the city of Memphis including specific cases Wilkins had worked on.