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County officials exploring options

By May 9, 2023May 12th, 2023No Comments

Both commissioners and the McCurtain County Jail Trust are exploring their options regarding the controversy over the sheriff and other officials.

Board of County Commissioners chairman John Williams said Monday that he is learning about due process.

At today’s jail trust meeting, the agenda includes an item for hiring a lawyer.

Last week, commissioners had posted an agenda for Monday’s meeting that included possibly suspending the sheriff and beginning removal proceedings against him.

But then the agenda was changed to remove the item on suspending the sheriff pending further legal action.

However, a look at one of the statutes cited in the agenda may offer a clue as to why commissioners backtracked.

It does, indeed, involve the sheriff’s due process rights if commissioners were to move against him.

One statute cited would give the sheriff the right to demand a trial within 10 days if he wanted it.

With a prosecutor and judges most likely to recuse in that situation, and in a county where it can take four to five days to get mail delivered, putting on a trial in only 10 days could be an almost impossible task.

And the cost for ensuring the sheriff his due process rights in such a case could be considerable: It might even amount to a “get out of jail free” card because of the constitutional bar against “double jeopardy” – and since the trial for removal of officers is considered a criminal trial.

So there was no choice but to pull the agenda and do more study on the matter.

County officials are proceeding cautiously.