Scales of Justice

The saga between elected Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Karla Allsberry and 45th Circuit Judge Patrick Flynn took yet another bizarre turn this month, when the presiding judge warned dozens of court and law enforcement officials Allsberry might attempt to return to her office at the Lincoln County Justice Center.

In a letter, Flynn said he had met with Troy Chief of Police Jeff Taylor, Lincoln County Sheriff Rick Harrell and court security personnel about Allsberry’s intentions.

Flynn continued to say all personnel involved “are taking a heightened awareness in their safety protocols” in the event Allsberry should attempt to return to the Justice Center.

In a statement, Harrell said his office regarding Allsberry has made no extra security measures.

“Judge Flynn made sure I was aware of the letter sent to the court,” he said. “There has been no changes in the Sheriff’s Office’s procedures concerning court security.”

Flynn’s warning is the latest shot fired in a nearly two-year long battle between him and Allsberry. Less than six months after she took office, Flynn suspended her from her position – and later had her forcibly removed from the Justice Center by deputies in 2019.

However, on Feb. 8, Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan ruled Flynn not only had no grounds to suspend Allsberry, but that he didn’t have the authority to remove an official elected by the people from office.

At the same time, Callahan also ruled he did not have the authority to reinstate Allsberry.

Despite Callahan’s ruling, Flynn has refused to allow Allsberry to return to her position. Both parties have appealed Callahan’s ruling, but on different grounds.

Presiding over a separate lawsuit, U.S. Judge Stephen Limbaugh put a stay on the case, pending the appeals in state court.

In his legal motion, Allsberry’s lawyer, David Duree said Flynn’s letter “falsely claims” Limbaugh denied Allsberry access to the Justice Center. Instead, Limbaugh simply extended the stay, and that Flynn grossly misrepresented the facts of the case.

Flynn cites a March 25 email from Duree to Melanie Pennycuff, the lawyer with the Missouri Attorney General’s office who is representing Flynn. In Duree’s email, he opposes a transfer of the case to the Missouri Supreme Court, saying “the more efficient way to resolve” Flynn’s appeal would be an expedited opinion from the Eastern District Court of Appeals while Allsberry resumes her duties, under a court order or by “self help.”

Also in the filing, Duree said Flynn’s letter “strongly implies that Karla Allsberry is a threat to the safety of all personnel in the Justice Center,” and is “now denied access to even the public areas of the Justice Center” by Flynn, which is also a violation of Callahan’s ruling.

In an e-mailed statement, Allsberry said she is in no way a threat to anyone – and just wants to be allowed to do the job the people of Lincoln County elected her to do back in 2018.

“I simply want to safely and peacefully walk into my office and perform the duties the people elected me to do - as Judge Callahan has ruled that I have the right to do,” she said. “Judge Callahan clearly ruled that Judge Flynn’s action toward me was illegal when, nearly two years ago, he purported to ‘suspend’ me from office and ordered armed deputies to make sure that I left the Justice Center and did not return. Unfortunately, Judge Flynn acts as though the Court has no authority over him by continuing to bar me from entering the Justice Center, as though Judge Callahan had ruled for Judge Flynn instead of against him.  

Judge Flynn has appealed the ruling, but there is still a final, enforceable judgment in my favor. That is why I have applied to the Courts by way of extraordinary writs of prohibition or mandamus that are currently pending before the Missouri Supreme Court, in an attempt to get Judge Flynn to comply with the Court’s judgment.”

Allsberry continued to say Flynn has continued to assassinate her character with allegation after allegation, including 14 separate ones, which were thrown out by Callahan on Feb. 8.

“There was no reason for Judge Flynn to imply that I posed a threat to the safety and welfare of the employees working in the Justice Center. I believe that he did that in a deliberate attempt to embarrass me and to further smear my name,” Allsberry said. “The term ‘self-help’ my lawyer used simply meant that I would return to the Justice Center to resume my duties as the elected Circuit Clerk to serve people - as Judge Callahan has now ruled that I should be allowed to do.

“I have not used ‘self-help’ thus far to avoid the risk of a confrontation with Judge Flynn. As a result, I continue to pursue all available legal recourse.”