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Time for the system to show it can work

Having a sitting sheriff who is awaiting trial on felony charges and facing a potential removal hearing on a petition from the county commissioners puts Lincoln County in an awkward situation.
Lincoln County Sheriff Timothy L. Daugherty has not been convicted of anything so far. The criminal charges against him are very serious, and the allegations that could be argued in the petition may be of even greater consequence to the citizens of Lincoln County. But indictments and petitions do not make these accusations true. The sheriff has rights, even when there’s suspicion that he has not always respected everyone else’s rights. He deserves to have his day in court in front of jury and judge, not merely be the subject of argumentation in the volatile court of public opinion. Even above the sheriff’s personal rights, for the good of the people of this county, the system needs a chance to prove that it can work to hold a high public official accountable.
For everyone involved, the sooner the outcome of the sheriff’s case is known the better. This will allow the political process already scheduled for 2010 to move forward with candidates and voters fully aware of the stakes. It will also begin to remove the cloud of distrust from the Sheriff’s Office, provided the system has been allowed to work without inappropriate interference from those with vested interests in either ending or sustaining the sheriff’s political career.
For these reasons, Judge Forrest Bridges’ decision to delay both the criminal and civil hearings until February is not sitting well with everyone. Even so, the judge has reasons behind both decisions and they are his decisions to make. It may be that the move of the criminal trial will help insulate the jury’s ultimate verdict from appeals. It may be that rescheduling the removal hearing for late February will make it unnecessary and save the taxpayers money. These are subjective questions and are naturally matters of divided public opinion.
Regardless of what one thinks of the judge’s actions this week, and whatever we think of Sheriff Daugherty’s administration, it’s now essential that we all give the system a chance to work.
Once the courts have spoken, the ultimate word on who will be sheriff after this year will be in the hands of the highest authority in the American system of government. And We the People will pass final judgment on this question in November.
by Frank Taylor

Time for the system to show it can work

OPINION COLUMN

Having a sitting sheriff who is awaiting trial on felony charges and facing a potential removal hearing on a petition from the county commissioners puts Lincoln County in an awkward situation.
Lincoln County Sheriff Timothy L. Daugherty has not been convicted of anything so far. The criminal charges against him are very serious, and the allegations that could be argued in the petition may be of even greater consequence to the citizens of Lincoln County. But indictments and petitions do not make these accusations true. The sheriff has rights, even when there’s suspicion that he has not always respected everyone else’s rights. He deserves to have his day in court in front of jury and judge, not merely be the subject of argumentation in the volatile court of public opinion. Even above the sheriff’s personal rights, for the good of the people of this county, the system needs a chance to prove that it can work to hold a high public official accountable.
For everyone involved, the sooner the outcome of the sheriff’s case is known the better. This will allow the political process already scheduled for 2010 to move forward with candidates and voters fully aware of the stakes. It will also begin to remove the cloud of distrust from the Sheriff’s Office, provided the system has been allowed to work without inappropriate interference from those with vested interests in either ending or sustaining the sheriff’s political career.
For these reasons, Judge Forrest Bridges’ decision to delay both the criminal and civil hearings until February is not sitting well with everyone. Even so, the judge has reasons behind both decisions and they are his decisions to make. It may be that the move of the criminal trial will help insulate the jury’s ultimate verdict from appeals. It may be that rescheduling the removal hearing for late February will make it unnecessary and save the taxpayers money. These are subjective questions and are naturally matters of divided public opinion.
Regardless of what one thinks of the judge’s actions this week, and whatever we think of Sheriff Daugherty’s administration, it’s now essential that we all give the system a chance to work.
Once the courts have spoken, the ultimate word on who will be sheriff after this year will be in the hands of the highest authority in the American system of government. And We the People will pass final judgment on this question in November.
by Frank Taylor

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