On Monday, a judge ruled Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Karla Allsberry should not have been removed from office nearly two years ago, but he lacks the authority to reinstate her.

Cole County Circuit Court Judge Richard Callahan ruled there were no grounds to suspend Allsberry from her position by Patrick Flynn, the presiding judge in Lincoln County in 2019, and that Flynn did not have the authority to remove an elected official from office.

The battle between Allsberry and Flynn began shortly after she took office in January of last year. A whistleblower complaint by Allsberry alleging fiscal mismanagement by her predecessor, longtime Circuit Clerk Grace Sinclair, initiated a state audit of the circuit court.

Flynn stripped Allsberry of her powers to hire and fire staff members, essentially making her a "Circuit Clerk in name only," according to Callahan.

“(T)he rift widened as the deputy clerks in the office split into ‘Team Flynn’ versus ‘Team Allsberry,’ with deputies being forced to choose one side or the other,” Callahan also wrote in his decision.

In May, Allsberry was suspended by Flynn and placed on administrative leave before being forcibly removed by a pair of Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies – and a temporary replacement was hired. She was also banned from returning to the Justice Center property until Flynn’s ruling was later changed by Callahan to allow Allsberry to return to the property to handle personal court business.

Accusations between Allsberry and Flynn devolved from the civil to the criminal in the case. Flynn filed several affidavits alleging misconduct in office by Allsberry. Allsberry, in turn, filed a criminal complaint with the Troy Police Department against Flynn, alleging Flynn made false statements in those affidavits.

In his ruling, Callahan rejected Flynn's allegations Allsberry committed any misdemeanors in office.

"None of the above allegations, individually or collectively, nor any others were supported by proof to establish that Karla Allsberry committed a misdemeanor in office," he wrote.

Allsberry still has several other lawsuits pending, including one to restore her hiring and management authority.