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Jail Trust contracts with McVeigh’s attorney

By August 16, 2023No Comments

Oklahoma Attorney Gary J. James represents criminal suspects far more often than he represents sheriffs or jail trusts.
Despite that, the McCurtain County Jail Trust on July 11 signed an agreement with his firm as outside legal counsel.
James’ web site lists the firm’s areas of specialty as “criminal defense, personal injury, family law, drug offenses, DUI, medical malpractice and murder.”
Indeed, James represented one of the most notorious murderers in the nation, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
James recently advised sheriff Kevin Clardy to get the records of the jail trust from the county commissioners’ office and to secure them at the sheriff’s department.
Among the roles of records’ custodians is to follow the law in complying with Open Records Act requests.
In the last four decades, this newspaper has never been rejected on a single records request from the county commissioners’ office, yet the sheriff’s department has repeatedly refused to abide by records’ requests not only by this newspaper but reportedly by The New Yorker.
The sheriff even told this newspaper, when shown a copy of the Open Records Act, that he didn’t care if he broke the law. His comment was recorded.
In order for the paper to get records on the Bobby Barrick case, the newspaper enlisted the help of Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press, which sued the sheriff’s department on the newspaper’s behalf and finally received the records about a year after they were first requested.
A local resident told the newspaper he recently sought a public record from the sheriff’s department and was told he had been arrested more than two decades ago, which had nothing to do with his request.
County commissioners have refused the sheriff’s attempts to take the jail trust records from their office.
Ironically, a security company which undersheriff Mike Manning heads provides security services to both the commissioners’ office and the sheriff’s office.
At a county commissioners’ meeting Monday, audience member Cedrick McCane claimed there was a clear conflict of interest in Manning’s company providing security for the sheriff’s department, county and jail.
“I’m in total agreement this is a conflict,” said John Williams, chairman of the commissioners’ board.
Other county officials noted that Manning’s firm is one of two security firms that the county uses at the courthouse. The other one is not owned or controlled by anyone working at the sheriff’s office.

Gary J. James