Legal battle over Baker County Sheriff continues - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Legal battle over Baker County Sheriff continues

By Christian Jennings - bio | email

July 28, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The legal battle over who is sheriff of Baker county continues. The county contends the sheriff was properly removed from office, but the now former sheriff Isaac Anderson contends he was not given due process. This all goes back to a case in 2004 in which the sheriff's certification was revoked when he was accused of writing a false report.

Former Baker County Sheriff, Isaac Anderson, surprised his former co-workers on Friday when he showed up to work DESPITE being removed from his position.

"It was an unusual occurrence," says County Attorney Tommy Coleman who threatened to take legal action if he showed up to work again today. Since Anderson reportedly didn't make a second appearance, Coleman says he'll let it pass. Now, they plan to take things one step at a time.

"The first thing we want to do is stabilize the situation with the new sheriff, answer the motion that has been filled against the county, and once that's done we'll proceed with the other part of the action," he says.

The motion he's talking about is from Anderson's attorney, Phil Cannon. Cannon couldn't be reached today for an interview, but the county attorney says they are alleging that the probate judge didn't have the authority to remove Anderson from office and that he should have had ten days notice.

That's where Coleman says there is confusion. Georgia law states in Title 45 that before declaring an office vacant, the person authorized to fill the vacancy, in this case Probate Judge Angela Hendricks, shall give at least ten days' notice to the person who's office has become vacant. But the County Attorney is pointing out Title 15 which pertains specifically to the position of Sheriff . It states, notwithstanding the provisions of Code Section 45, the office of sheriff shall by operation of law be deemed vacant. In other words, this law trumps the last.

Now it's up to the Probate Judge to appoint a new sheriff. In the meantime, Baker County Coroner Andy Belinc is taking over the position. Judge Hendricks couldn't be reached today for an interview, but Coleman says he has talked with her about her decision.

"Her response was I want to make sure I get a good qualified person. I said fine," Coleman says.

But there is another problem contributing to the confusion. Anderson ran unopposed for re-election in the Democratic primary July 15th.

"Another issue, that we have not addressed yet that we will be addressing shortly, and that is the qualification of Isaac Anderson to be a candidate for Sheriff of Baker County," Coleman explains.

If Anderson is disqualified he could be replaced with another candidate by the democratic party.

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