Osborne v. Com.

Decision Date23 February 2006
Docket NumberNo. 2004-SC-000566-DG.,2004-SC-000566-DG.
Citation185 S.W.3d 645
PartiesDavid OSBORNE, et al., Appellants, v. COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY, Appellee.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky

C. Thomas Hectus, Randall S. Strause, Hectus & Strause PLLC, Louisville, Counsel for Appellants.

Patrick McGee, General Counsel, David E. Fleenor, John Hunter Walker, Wesley R. Butler, Office of General Counsel, Cabinet for Health Services, Frankfort, Counsel for Appellees.

SCOTT, Justice.

This case comes to us on discretionary review of the Court of Appeals' opinion, which held that county jails, not the Commonwealth, are responsible for paying the cost of providing psychotropic medications to inmates incarcerated at those county jails pursuant to KRS § 441.045(3). In so ruling, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Franklin Circuit Court granting a sua sponte motion for summary judgment in favor of Appellee, Commonwealth of Kentucky. For the reasons set forth herein, we affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals.

I. FACTS

This case arose over a dispute between the jailer at the Daviess County Detention Center ("DCDC") and the Cabinet for Health Services1 ("CHS") regarding the financial responsibility for providing psychotropic medications to indigent inmates incarcerated at the DCDC. The Appellant, David Osborne, is currently jailer for the Daviess County Detention Center ("DCDC").2 Prior to Osborne taking the position, his predecessor, Harold Taylor, initiated a suit in Franklin Circuit Court, arguing that KRS § 441.047(1) places the financial responsibility on the Commonwealth to provide indigent prisoners with psychotropic medications. Appellants also argued that since KRS § 441.047 was enacted later in time and is more specific than KRS § 441.045, it is the controlling statute and repeals the latter by implication. Appellees, Cabinet for Health Services and the Department of Finance, in turn argued that KRS § 441.045(3) directs county jails to cover the costs of providing "necessary medical, dental and psychological care" for indigent inmates. Appellants' motion for summary judgment was denied, and the Franklin Circuit Court, Crittenden, J., granted a sua sponte summary judgment in favor of Appellees.

In its opinion and order, the Franklin Circuit Court, utilizing statutory construction, held that the two statutes could, and should, be harmonized so as to give effect to both. Further, the court noted that if the General Assembly had intended for KRS § 441.047 to repeal KRS § 441.045, it would have done so explicitly. Notably, the court found that KRS § 441.047 was enacted to save taxpayers' money by utilizing state-operated or state-supported psychiatric facilities as opposed to facilities in the private sector. KRS § 441.045, on the other hand, specifically requires the county jail to cover the cost of providing "necessary medical, dental and psychological care to indigent inmates in the jail." The circuit court held that the term "psychological care" encompasses psychotropic medications, and as such, the jailer remains responsible for paying the costs of administering these medicines to indigent inmates while they are incarcerated in the jail.

The Court of Appeals agreed, finding that the circuit court properly construed KRS § 441.045 to require the county jails to cover the costs of psychotropic medications as part of necessary psychological care.

II. ANALYSIS
A. Statutory Construction

Because the outcome of this appeal turns on whether the lower courts properly construed the statutes at issue, this Court feels compelled to reiterate the means by which courts in the Commonwealth must resolve apparent conflicts between statutory provisions.

Because the construction and application of statutes is a question of law, it is subject to de novo review on appeal. See Bob Hook Chevrolet Isuzu v. Com., Transportation Cabinet, 983 S.W.2d 488, 490 (Ky.1998). Furthermore, the Legislature's intention in enacting a statute must be justified by the language, and no unjustifiable intention may be read into the statute. See Gateway Const. Co. v. Wallbaum, 356 S.W.2d 247, 249 (Ky.1962).

The primary rule is to ascertain the intention from the words employed in enacting the statute and not to guess what the Legislature may have intended but did not express. Resort must be had first to the words, which are decisive if they are clear. The words of the statute are to be given their usual, ordinary, and everyday meaning.

Id. (citations omitted).

Although this Court and the Court of Appeals have held that a later enacted statute generally controls, see e.g., Brown v. Hoblitzell, 307 S.W.2d 739 (Ky.1956); Williams v. Commonwealth, 829 S.W.2d 942, 944 (Ky.App.1992), this Court has also recognized that "[w]here there is an apparent conflict between statutes or sections thereof, it is the duty of the court to try to harmonize the interpretation of the law so as to give effect to both sections or statutes if possible." Ledford v. Faulkner, 661 S.W.2d 475, 476 (Ky.1983). Furthermore, this Court presumes that the Legislature knew of pre-existing statutes when it enacted a later statute on the same subject matter. See Shewmaker v. Commonwealth, 30 S.W.3d 807 (Ky.App.2000). Although repeal by implication is recognized, there is also a presumption that if the Legislature intended a subsequent act to repeal a former one, it will express itself to that end so as to leave no doubt about its purpose. See Tipton v. Brown, 277 Ky. 625, 126 S.W.2d 1067 (Ky.1939). In short, courts must use repeal by implication as a last resort when the repugnancy of the conflict can admit no other reasonable construction. See Kentucky Off-Track Betting, Inc. v. McBurney, 993 S.W.2d 946 (Ky.1999).

B. The Court of Appeals properly held that county jails remain responsible for the costs of providing psychotropic medications to indigent prisoners.

Having thoroughly addressed the rules regarding statutory construction, we now turn to the issue of whether or not the Court of Appeals was correct in affirming the circuit court's determination that the county jails are responsible for the costs of providing psychotropic medications to indigent inmates in the jail.

KRS § 441.045(3) provides, in pertinent part, that "the cost of providing necessary medical, dental, and psychological care for indigent prisoners in the jail shall be paid from the jail budget." (Emphasis added). Clearly this statute places the financial responsibility for covering all aspects of an inmate's psychological care on the county jail. As the lower courts have found, psychotropic medications must necessarily fall within the rubric of psychological care. It is our opinion that there can be very little else that this portion of the statute would otherwise address.

In contrast, KRS § 441.047(1) provides that

[w]henever a prisoner confined in the county jail is in need of psychiatric or similar evaluation, treatment, or services, it shall be the responsibility of the Commonwealth to provide such evaluation, treatment, or services at the expense of the Commonwealth at the nearest state-operated or state-supported facility suitable for the provision of the required evaluation, treatment, or services at no cost to the county.

Although Appellees are correct in that KRS § 441.047 has traditionally been cited in competency evaluations for criminal defendants,3 such a conclusion is irrelevant as to whether or not subsection (1) requires reversal of the Court of Appeals. The plain language of KRS § 441.047(1) reveals that this portion of the statute clearly applies to those situations where an indigent inmate receives "psychiatric evaluations, treatment or services" at a nearby state-supported or state-operated psychiatric facility. It is only when this "in-house" treatment is rendered that the Commonwealth is responsible for the costs associated with such services.4 By "in-house" we mean any treatment rendered at a state-supported or state-operated facility or other suitable private facility outside the confines of the county jail.

As we have stated on previous occasions, this Court believes that if the Legislature intended for a later-enacted statute to repeal a former one, it will express itself to that end. We find no indication the...

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