Archive for Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Process for removing Franklin County sheriff rarely used

March 5, 2013


Related document

Criminal complaint against Fredricks ( .PDF )

Related document

Criminal complaint against Curry ( .PDF )

Following the arrest last week of Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry and Deputy Jerrod Fredricks, Franklin County Attorney Stephen Hunting relied on a seldom-used Kansas law to try and remove Curry from office.

"It's kind of a last resort," said Melissa Wangemann, legal counsel for the Kansas Association of Counties, of the civil case Hunting initiated last week after Curry and Fredricks were arrested by KBI agents on felony counts of interfering with law enforcement. "It's rarely used."

It's known as an "ouster proceeding," and it allows county attorneys to seek removal of a public official under several circumstances, such as when a public official engages in misconduct, neglects duties or commits a violation of "moral turpitude."

Wangemann could cite only one other instance of a sheriff being ousted. In 2000, Shawnee County Sheriff Dave Meneley was ousted after a seven-day civil trial following his involvement in a drug scandal with the sheriff's office.

It's unclear when Curry's ouster proceedings will take place, but both he and Fredricks — who are both barred from possessing firearms by court order — are scheduled to appear in Franklin County District Court Wednesday on the criminal charges.

At a news conference last week, Hunting, who was not available for comment Tuesday, asked for Curry to resign immediately, though that has yet to happen. Wangemann said it's more common for a public official to resign amid criminal allegations than challenge the ouster.

While the ouster civil case is in process, a judge could suspend Curry from his duties and appoint a temporary replacement until the case is resolved.

According to the criminal complaint filed by a special prosecutor from the Shawnee County District Attorney's Office, Curry is accused of using confidential information gained through his office for his or another person's gain, or to cause harm to another, on May 30, 2012, and then making false statements to investigators on Sept. 27, 2012.

Fredricks, who served as public information officer for the sheriff's office, is accused of making false statements on Oct. 5, 2012, after the investigation had been made public. The circumstances of these alleged incidents remain unclear, however.

Both were booked into the Wyandotte County Jail last week but quickly posted bond.


Bobby Burch 5 years, 2 months ago

The criminal complaint document states that Curry used the information for personal gain OR another person's gain OR to intentionally cause harm to another ... meaning there are more possibilities than the reported allegation above of Curry using the info only for personal gain. In other words, he could have used the illegally obtained information for a number of reasons aside from personal gain.

Shaun Hittle 5 years, 2 months ago

You are correct, of course. It's bee updated, and thanks for the input.

Shaun Hittle Reporter Lawrence Journal-World

Catalano 5 years, 2 months ago

Yes, you don't have to say "of course". Really. You don't.

Dusty Murphy 5 years, 2 months ago

This may be a dumb question, but if he's found innocent would the ouster continue? Are the allegations enough for the ouster to continue? I assume that there has to be some sort of factual basis for the ouster proceedings to take place.

I'm not saying he's guilty or that he's innocent. I'm just curious as to what would happen if he's acquitted or if for some reason teu decline to peruse the charges in court.

Bobby Burch 5 years, 2 months ago

Good question. I'm no legal expert, but I imagine the ouster proceedings would be suspended or retracted should Curry be deemed innocent. That, or if the trial was dismissed.

Orwell 5 years, 2 months ago

Technically the two cases (ouster and criminal prosecution) involve different elements and different standards of proof. He could be ousted and then acquitted (or the other way around) just as OJ was acquitted but then found civilly liable for the same killing.

Jeremiah Jefferson 5 years, 2 months ago

In any other job a person would be fired without question innocent or not. Far as I am concerned the damage is done and so should the sheriff. He put himself under the microscope, now its time to pay the piper. No need for hearings and all that jazz.. Just can him and move on

Bobby Burch 5 years, 2 months ago

He's an elected official. That's why the Franklin County attorney filed a petition for ouster.

Bob Forer 5 years, 2 months ago

Any elected official is entitled to maintain that office and draw their regular salary until the occurrence of one of four events:

1) The term expires. 2) They resign 3) They are ousted.
4) Death of the official.

Because of due process requirements, it takes at least two months to remove a public official. Therefore, it is prudent to commence removal proceedings immediately because the longer you wait, the longer that official remains in office drawing a paycheck and possibly doing the public more harm.

I know of at least one case where the public official refused to resign in order to continue to collect a paycheck, only to resign shortly before the final court proceedings were scheduled to begin. Case in point, Mike Goodrich, former Cherokee County Attorney, who was convicted of accepting favors from a strip club in exchange for fixing tickets. Although Goodrich abandoned his office after being arrested, he he refused to resign until the last minute, earning a few more months of paychecks.

NOt a good idea if there is a chance you will be convicted and subject to a jail sentence. Judges don't like public officials who continue to milk the public after their hands are caught in the cookie jar.

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