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Lake County Clerk of Courts Faith Andrews' legal defense cost taxpayers nearly $34,000 in first month

The embattled clerk is entitled to her own attorneys as she fights judges who accuse her of creating dysfunction.

PAINESVILLE, Ohio — Lake County Clerk of Courts Faith Andrews is facing a backlash from employees and the judges. They accuse her of verbally abusing employees, publicly mocking elected officials and creating dysfunction that threatens the operation of common pleas court.

The allegations are so serious that the court's judges recently banned Andrews from coming to the office all but one day a month. She is fighting to get back to her office by filing a complaint against the judges, accusing them of interfering with her rights as an elected official. She filed the complaint in the Ohio Supreme Court.

Normally, the county prosecutor represents its public officials, but the prosecutor can't represent the clerk in a case involving the judges because it creates a conflict of interest. Andrews also is no fan of Lake County Prosecutor Chuck Coulson, whom she criticized publicly at a Columbus meeting with clerks of court from around Ohio.

Earlier coverage:

In April, the prosecutor's office—citing the conflict of interest—asked the county commissioners to hire the law firm Porter Wright, a firm chosen by Andrews. Working on the case is partner Edmund Searby and senior associate Kevin J. Kelley, the former Cleveland City Council president.

Searby told the commissioners during their April 7 meeting that he hoped to resolve the dispute as efficiently as possible. He and Kelley billed taxpayers more than $2,000 for the appearance that day and a related phone call and work. Their first invoice displays a total bill of almost $34,000, with charges including reviews of media coverage and research on getting Andrews security from the deputy sheriff.

Andrews did not respond Thursday to a call to her cell phone. As of today, there's nothing on the docket to suggests the two sides are headed to an efficient resolution.

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