Court orders City of Hannibal to turn over documents regarding Franke impeachment by next week

Franke 3rd Ward Hannibal

Stephan Franke

HANNIBAL, Mo. – An order signed Monday by Judge John Jackson gives the City of Hannibal until next Wednesday to produce all documents related to the impeachment proceedings of 3rd Ward Councilman Stephan Franke.

Jackson, appointed to preside over the impeachment after Judge Donald Bastian recused himself, granted Franke’s motion to compel the city to respond to Franke’s unmet request for discovery that was served on Feb. 11, 2022.

Franke must be provided with all documents, incident reports, investigative reports, written or reported statements, photographs, video and all electronic data and communication “including but not limited to emails and/or text messages” between the mayor, the city clerk, the city manager, any city councilman, any department director or other appointed city official, or any city employee that relate to Franke.

The order also denied Franke’s request for formal mediation between the parties. 

Impeachment charges were filed in January 2022, and Franke was suspended from his position on the council. 

Mayor James Hark alleged Franke violated his oath of office while acting in his capacity as a City Council member by physically assaulting two female city employees by grabbing the arms of both women “in a non-consensual manner,” causing pain to one woman and making a statement to female employees of a sexual nature that resulted in a hostile workplace for City Clerk Angel Zerbonia, City Manager Lisa Peck, and a former city employee.

Franke was reinstated when Tenth Judicial Circuit Presiding Judge Rachel L. Bringer Shepherd ruled June 27 the city violated the constitutional right of due process for  Franke.

Zerbonia was placed on administrative leave in November and now is under a third-party investigation for allegations of a hostile workplace made in a July email from Central Services Director Andy Dorian. The July 7 email was sent to several other department heads, including Zerbonia, expressing concerns about Zerbonia.

Franke said in a press release he is innocent of the allegations.  

“I look forward to proving my innocence and pursuing common sense transparency and accountability for Hannibal,” he said.

Nicole Volkert, special prosecutor for the case representing City of Hannibal, said she could not comment on the impeachment since it is pending litigation.

The parties are set to appear for a status conference and trial setting at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 17.

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