The first order of business for Metro Council's special committee will be to hire an outside lawyer that will work with the city's auditing team, the committee decided Thursday. That person will help determine if Mayor Megan Barry violated ethics rules during her extramarital relationship with Sgt. Rob Forrest, the former head of her security detail.
At that meeting, Metro Council attorney Mike Jameson said one of the advantages of hiring an outside lawyer would be his or her ability to interview potential witnesses in a private setting.
“This committee is a public meeting,” says Jameson. “Every meeting that is convened from this committee is public. And had the committee decided to conduct its own investigation, there would be, frankly, some squeamish scenarios where you would be placing witnesses under oath and asking them questions under the penalty of perjury with a court reporter transcribing every word stated.”
Jameson added that the attorney would still be tasked with turning over findings to the committee but would get to conduct interviews in what he calls a “less circus-like atmosphere.”
This would also allow Council members to oversee the probe, rather than act as investigators themselves.
Vice Mayor David Briley will oversee the vetting of the first round of legal candidates. He will consider applications from attorneys who have expertise in the area and who have no legal or political conflicts of interests. The committee also asked that he take diversity into account.
Briley will offer at least two recommendations during the special committee’s next meeting, on March 1. The council will vote on the final hire.
During the same meeting, Councilwoman Burkley Allen was also voted in to chair the investigation. Allen had previously voted against creating a special committee.