May 16, 2013 / 10:27 PM / in 5 years

Bankrupt Alabama county names new top lawyer

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May 16 (Reuters) - Alabama’s bankrupt Jefferson County on Thursday hired a new top, in-house attorney as officials put finishing touches on an exit plan meant to end America’s biggest ever municipal bankruptcy.

Carol Sue Nelson, a Birmingham lawyer with Maynard, Cooper & Gale, was approved as county attorney by a vote of 3-2 by the county commission and is scheduled to start the new job on June 3. Nelson will be paid $224,000 a year and succeeds Jeff Sewell, who was fired last month. Sewell was paid $393,000 a year.

Nelson takes over a short-staffed county legal office with a backlog of cases, which includes a 1982 consent decree ordering the county to cease discriminatory practices towards blacks and women.

Her current practice includes employment litigation and arbitration. She has worked with municipalities on affirmative action and other employment issues.

Just this week, Jefferson County came to a $105 million agreement with two creditors in its landmark $4.2 billion bankruptcy. The deal, one of a series the county has reached since filing for municipal bankruptcy in late 2011, was approved on Thursday by the Jefferson County commission.

Jefferson County expects to file a plan of adjustment with a bankruptcy court by the end of June, according to its lead bankruptcy attorney.

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