A special judge in Frankfort says Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher is protected by executive immunity and therefore cannot be prosecuted while in office.
Special Judge David Melcher essentially stayed the case until Fletcher's term expires, or unless he is removed through impeachment by the legislature. The indictment against Fletcher charged him with criminal conspiracy, official misconduct and violating a prohibition against political discrimination.
Melcher said he would enter an order August 18th formalizing his ruling. There will be no trial November eighth.
Defense attorneys filed a motion last month listing several reasons why the charges should be dismissed, including the argument that previous governors had committed acts similar to those Fletcher is accused of but weren't prosecuted.
The attorney general's office urged the judge to allow the case to continue, saying in a 47-page brief filed last week that Fletcher wasn't singled out for prosecution and isn't immune from prosecution as defense attorneys also contend.
For the past year, a special grand jury has been investigating whether the Fletcher administration broke state law by basing personnel decisions on political considerations.