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Judge: Randy White won't serve as Monroe Co. Sheriff | News

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Judge: Randy White won't serve as Monroe Co. Sheriff
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ID=13432671A special judge ordered that Randy White will not serve as Monroe County sheriff, despite winning the election by popular vote in August.

White challenged incumbent Bill Bivens and won the general election by about 700 votes.


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White wins sheriff race in Monroe Co., despite controversy

Days after the election, Bivens filed a lawsuit against White and the Monroe County Election Commission, citing that White wasn't certified to be on the ballot.

On Thursday, retired judge Don R. Ash sided with Bivens, overturning the election results. The Tennessee Supreme Court appointed Ash to the case after local judges recused themselves.


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Judge's ruling

Ash said he based his ruling off the Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Commission's investigation, which found that White didn't have enough full-time law enforcement experience to meet state requirements to run for sheriff.


MORE:
POST Commission says White not eligible for sheriff's office


Court documents show that the POST Commission didn't find out about White's lack of qualifications until after the election commission certified him and early voting was underway. The POST Commission's letter, stating that White lacked the proper requirements, was sent four days after early voting started.


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Days after elections, legal fight over Monroe Sheriff's race continues

White didn't have at least three years of full-time experience as a certified law enforcement officer in the past 10 years, according to the judge's ruling. Judge Ash said White knew he needed this requirement to run for sheriff, so White asked Vonore Police Chief Randall W. Kirkland to add him as a full-time officer. Kirkland added White to the full-time staff but only paid him $20 a week.

Time sheets over a six-and-a-half month period show White never worked more or less than an eight-hour shift. However, after that period, White never provided the court more time sheets, according to court documents. The judge also added that with the exception of the time sheets, White never provided any documentation that he worked full-time as an officer for at least three years in a period of 10 years.

White also testified that his job with the Vonore Police Department wasn't his primary source of income because he was also working full-time as EMS director.

White filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that Bivens didn't complain to the Monroe County Election Commission in time.

But the judge said Bivens took all the necessary steps to raise concerns about White's lack of qualifications to the election commission before the election. Court documents show that Bivens also called the POST Commission many times to get White's name removed from the ballot. Despite Bivens attempts, the POST Commission didn't revoke White's certification to appear on the ballot until July 18, which was after the White's name could be removed from the ballot.

Monroe County attorney Jerome Melson said the county commission has 120 days to appoint someone to that position, but until then, chief deputy Tommy Jones will take over the sheriff department's responsibilities. An appointed person will serve until the next general election.

Bivens' attorney, Jimmy Bilbo, issued the following statement:

"Special Judge Don Ash issued his ruling on the Bill Bivens election contest this morning. As we were anticipating, Judge Ash followed the law as established by the Tennessee Legislature. One of the requested remedies in this case was to declare the election void and after thoughtful and careful consideration of the law and the facts, Judge Don Ash agreed with us and declared the election void.

"This ruling is not simply about Judge Ash interpreting the laws of the State of Tennessee. It is confirmation of the requirements established by the Tennessee Legislature for a candidate to run for and hold the office of sheriff in the State of Tennessee. Judge Ash's decision confirms that the law is clear with regard to these requirements, and he implemented the law as written. As a result, the election is void.

"This election contest was filed because there is no question that Randy White lacked the statutorily required three years of full-time experience as a POST commission certified law enforcement officer out of the last ten years. According to the qualifications established by the Tennessee Legislature, and confirmed by Judge Ash's ruling, Randy White did not qualify to run for or hold the office of Sheriff of Monroe County.

"According to our Tennessee Legislature, and the ruling by Special Judge Ash, the election of Randy White to the office of Sheriff of Monroe County is now void. As a result, the Judgment will be certified to the officer or body authorized to fill the vacancy or order a new election.

"The parties just received the opinion this morning and we are in the process of reviewing every word of the articulate and well-conceived Judgment from Judge Ash. Upon a thorough review of the Judgment, we will make a decision as to what further actions, if any, are warranted on behalf of Bill Bivens."


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