Embattled Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk David Torrence told Metro Council members Thursday he would consider forms of restitution, including sacrificing his salary, to make up for the number of days he hasn’t been in his office.
At Thursday’s council budget hearing for the Criminal Court’s office, the focus inevitably turned to a recent WSMV-TV report that revealed Torrence had been working only three days a week and using his government vehicle for personal errands, including at least one trip to a liquor store. In the report, Torrence showed no remorse.
Staring down the beleaguered clerk, Councilman Phil Claiborne thanked Torrence for coming during a “difficult time” and directed attention to a letter Torrence wrote to the council asking for forgiveness.
“You’ve recognized your wrong,” Claiborne said. “Usually during a time when forgiveness is an issue, there’s also restitution. That’s the other side of that coin.”
Torrence said he’d be “willing to consider” some form of restitution.
Later, At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard — sponsor of a council-approved memorializing resolution calling for Torrence’s removal from office — asked the clerk if his willingness to consider restitution includes deducted salary for lost work time and his use of the vehicle.
“I’m willing to sit down and consider all those things,” Torrence said.
Torrence, elected last year to a fifth term in office, earns $125,000 annually.
Tygard told The City Paper he envisions Torrence relinquishing 40 percent of his past earnings, proportionate to the two days he’s skipped every work week. Claiborne said part of Torrence’s restitution could be a reduced salary moving forward.
But Councilman Sam Coleman encouraged Torrence to wait until all legal action is complete before agreeing to some type of restitution, pointing out the difference between a “legal wrong versus a moral wrong.”
“We just need to make sure we hear from both sides,” Coleman cautioned.
Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said he did not know how the structuring of Torrence’s restitution would work, noting that he hadn’t been delivered a proposal.
“It’s never been done to my knowledge,” Riebeling said, calling it “new ground.”