Leake Ousted as Madison County Attorney

9:45 PM, Dec 3, 2012   |  By Melissa Dean

MARSHALL — It did not take long for newly appointed county commissioners to shake things up in Madison County.

Within minutes of swearing in new county commissioners on Monday, Larry Leake was ousted as the Madison County Attorney by a 3-2 vote.

“I’ve known (Leake) for many years, and I consider him a good friend of mine,” said newly elected Commissioner Jim Baker, who made the motion. “But people voted me in because they are ready for the county and county government to go in a different direction.”

Democrat Wayne Brigman joined Republican Commissioners Bill Briggs and Baker to cast the deciding vote to replace Leake.

“People wanted a change,” said Briggs.

Commissioners Sue Vicinskas and Hall Moore dissented.

“I think it was a promise made during the election that Larry needed to be removed,” said Vilcinskas, who was appointed commission chair during Monday’s meeting. Baker was unanimously appointed vice chair.

Leake could not be reached to comment on the meeting.

Attorney Hal Harrison was appointed as the new county attorney. Harrison is also the attorney of Mitchell and Avery counties.

According to Baker, the move to replace Leake was due in part by what could be considered a conflict of interest for the county.

“Larry has the reputation of doing much more than just legal advice,” said Baker. “

It is time to do away with the county feeling that the same person is calling the shots. It will be a positive change for the county.”

Leake, while he has held the position as county attorney for more than 30 years, is also the attorney for the towns of Mars Hill, Marshall and Hot Springs, as well as the attorney for the Madison County Department of Social Services.

Leake also currently serves as the chairman of the state Board of Elections.

“They have, at times, gotten in the way of each other,” said Baker, who cited the 2011 case in which county commissioners sued DSS following a discrepancy with a board member.

“He is the attorney for a lot of different towns and agencies,” said Briggs. “It is good not to have one person in control of everything.”

Baker said the move will save the county money. Leake was paid a retainer fee of $1,000 a month, according to the county Finance Department.

While the move to replace Leake was not unanimous, Vicinskas said she hopes the board will move the county forward through bipartisanship and collaborative efforts.

“It will be an interesting time in our county,” said Vilcinskas. “I think the county is going to be surprised at how differently things will be run.”

Leave a Reply