Judge Won't Allow Kentucky Attorney General to Prosecute Gov. Fletcher

A judge disqualified Kentucky's attorney general Friday from any involvement in prosecuting Gov. Ernie Fletcher in a state hiring scandal.

Franklin County District Judge David Melcher ruled that Attorney General Greg Stumbo's office still has jurisdiction so its prosecutors can remain on the case, but without Stumbo.

"The attorney general himself shall play no role in the prosecution of the defendant, and is hereby disqualified from prosecuting or participating in the prosecution of this case," Melcher said in his order.

Fletcher, Kentucky's first Republican governor in three decades, was indicted in May on charges alleging his administration rewarded political supporters with protected state jobs. He has accused the Democratic attorney general of conducting a politically motivated investigation in the case.

Fletcher pleaded not guilty last month to misdemeanor charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination. Last summer, he issued a blanket pardon for any administration member who might face charges — except himself.

The judge's ruling Friday "makes no difference in the prosecution of this case," said attorney general's office spokeswoman Vicki Glass. The trial is scheduled for Nov. 8.

Attorneys for Fletcher filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him, saying they amount "to selective and vindictive prosecution."

The special grand jury investigating whether Fletcher's administration broke state law by basing personnel decisions on political considerations has indicted 29 people. Half the indictments have been sealed, the others involved current and former Fletcher administration staff members or associates.