Judge denies request to permanently seal 'confidential communications'

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By Linda Ireland

An attempt to permanently seal certain communications between former Hodgenville mayor Terry Cruse and former city clerk/treasurer MaDonna Hornback has failed.

Ron Mather, the attorney representing Cruse and Hornback, submitted a memorandum last month in LaRue Circuit Court claiming messages of a personal nature between his clients were seized during an investigation by Kentucky State Police a year ago. He asked that the material “be returned or permanently sealed.”

KSP’s investigation resulted in indictments against Cruse and Hornback on several counts of abuse of public trust for allegedly misusing the city’s fleet fuel card and being reimbursed at a higher rate than the state allows for mileage. Cruse and Hornback have pleaded not guilty.

Cruse was removed from his position in May by Hodgenville City Council. Hornback is no longer employed by the City.

Mather said the 30-to-40 pages of personal communications between his clients should be ruled inadmissible at trial because the seizure exceeded the scope of the search warrant. He also claimed the search violated his clients’ Fourth Amendment rights.

LaRue Circuit Judge Charles Simms III ruled July 7 that KSP had the right (through a search warrant) to search a drawer in the mayor’s desk where “most of the confidential, private communication” in question was found.

The court will conduct a hearing at the pretrial conference on Aug. 28 to determine whether the communication will be admissible under the state’s Rules of Evidence.