County Mayor Chooses Not To Reappoint County Attorney Rheubin Taylor; Validity Of His 4-Year Contract Is Questioned

  • Friday, October 14, 2022

Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp on Friday informed County Attorney Rheubin Taylor he would not be reappointed as the county attorney. County Mayor Wamp said he will immediately begin a search to identify an appointment to bring before the County Commission.

“I respect Mr. Taylor and appreciate his service to Hamilton County, however my transition team recommended we pursue a new direction in the County Attorney’s office as we seek to increase transparency and accountability in county government,” said County Mayor Wamp.

“County Mayor Wamp came to this decision based on concerns about private legal work Mr. Taylor conducts during business hours, concerns about breach of attorney-client privilege with our office, and previous admissions from Mr. Taylor that his office had systematically destroyed thousands of documents related to open records requests,” said Chief of Staff, Claire McVay. 

Mayor Wamp's letter to Mr. Taylor said, "I am writing to inform you that I will not be reappointing you as the County Attorney. The County Mayor's office needs a trusted advisor and I will be pursuing a new direction in that office.

"Effective immediately, you are no longer employed as the County Attorney."

County Attorney Taylor in June of last year was given a four-year term by former County Mayor Jim Coppinger and the commission at the time. It says termination would require a majority of the County Commission with concurrence of the county mayor or two-thirds of the commission without the concurrence of the county mayor.

The Wamp office said in September, he sought a second opinion on this matter from Knoxville attorney Dwight Tarwater, who served as general counsel to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

The opinion questions whether the contract is enforceable since a new county mayor and County Commission are now in office.

It says the county mayor likely has the authority to terminate the county attorney without involvement of the County Commission.

The Knoxville attorney said former County Mayor Coppinger did not have the authority to enter into the contract beyond his mayoral term.

He concluded, "For the reasons stated above, it is our opinion that the current four-year contract between Hamilton County and Rheubin M. Taylor is likely unenforceable under Tennessee law, and the Hamilton County mayor may dismiss him without the concurrence of the Board of Commissioners. That being said, only the courts can provide a definitive resolution of this question."

 

 

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