Local News

Mar 14, 2014 5:22 PM by Andrew Ellison - aellison@kristv.com

Kleberg Taxpayers to Foot the Bill in Defamation Suit

KINGSVILLE - Kleberg County Commissioners have decided to use tax dollars to defend a county employee being sued by another county employee.

The courthouse I.T. Director says the County Clerk defamed him during a recent media interview.

It all started several weeks ago when the courthouse network system crashed for a couple days.

In the lawsuit, I.T. Director Joe Rodriguez says County Clerk Leo Alarcon blamed him for the crash, and accused him of being "incompetent in his profession", during an interview that broadcasted on television.

The lawsuit doesn't even name Kleberg County, it's simply Joe Rodriguez vs. Leo Alarcon. But this week, the county commissioners voted three to two to pay for Alarcon's lawyer.

Commissioner David Rosse says the court is allowed to fund Alarcon's defense if they feel Alarcon was acting in his official capacity as county clerk.

Rosse says Alarcon was frustrated because he couldn't do his job.

"He was in his office. He was at his desk. It was during county hours and his concern was not getting emails from the secretary of state's office, or being able to transmit and receive emails regarding court records," Rosse says.

But two members of the court voted against shelling out those tax dollars, including County Judge Juan Escobar. He says there was nothing official about Alarcon's comments.

"The county should not be paying for something that's between two persons and the county has nothing to do with it," Escobar says.

The lawyer has not been hired yet. That will likely be discussed in executive session during the next county commissioners meeting on Monday.


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