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Steuben County sheriff’s legal battle continues: What happens next?

In Steuben County, Sheriff James Allard’s ongoing legal struggle with the county government took a new turn on January 4 during a State Supreme Court hearing. The focus was on Sheriff Allard’s application for discovery, a legal process where parties in a lawsuit share information about witnesses and evidence before trial.

Sheriff Allard, represented by lawyer Karlee Bolaños, seeks to uncover details from a confidential executive session held on September 25, 2023. The session’s discussions and decisions are pivotal, as they involve the revocation of the Sheriff’s indemnification. Indemnification is a protective measure where the county would cover any legal judgments against the Sheriff.

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The controversy began when the Steuben County Legislature passed resolutions on September 25 concerning Sheriff Allard’s liability insurance and indemnification. However, the resolution regarding liability insurance was rescinded on November 27.

Bolaños plans to interview County Legislator Hilda Lando if the discovery application is approved. The team contends that crucial information, believed to be harmful to the county and claimed to be under attorney-client privilege, could be exposed. This information, they argue, could prove that the legislature’s decision was made in bad faith and shouldn’t be concealed by privilege.

Thomas Mitchell from the New York State Sheriff’s Association, who filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in support of Sheriff Allard, emphasized the case’s broader impact on sheriffs beyond Steuben County.