Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young was set to appear in court Friday to respond to claims he let prisoners out of jail without permission for short periods of time to visit family and girlfriends. But that appearance has been postponed. Lynn Hatter spoke with longtime Gadsden reporter Byron Spires about the latest in the case.
Byron Spires is a longtime reporter with the Havana Herald who first reported on Gadsden Sheriff Morris Young allowing prisoners to use the furlough program to leave jail for short periods of time. Originally, Circuit Judge Barbara Hobbs was supposed to hear the case. Spires says that’s no longer happening.
Spires: And Judge Francis, the chief judge for this circuit court system, appointed Judge William Gary. And in the process of that, the State Attorney, Willie Meggs, filed a petition asking Gary recuse himself because of prior connections with Morris Young and he agreed… Now they have a new judge from Circuit Three which is the Lake City/ Live Oak district handling the case.
Lynn: What initially got this started? Sheriff Young is in charge of the Gadsden County Jail and he had let out some inmates who were trustees, unsupervised.
Spires: This had been done prior to Sheriff Young. Sheriff W A Woodham had allowed some trustees out on furloughs. And it depended on the time and what they were in there for. But it kind of escalated after Sheriff Young got in. What started was a case where someone was released on furlough for eight hours. And when they were released they and went to their home and ended up in a fracas with a female who lived there and threatened to kill her.”
Lynn: What are the implications of this? Sheriff Young, his argument is I am the sheriff, I am an elected officials I have this authority. And State Attorney Willie Meggs, his argument is, ‘no we expect you to follow our orders. Is this a clash of two perspectives on how to deal with county jail inmates and what are the implications of that?
Spires: “I think this will be an interesting case and it may create some rules for further down the line about what responsibility a county sheriff has over what a court says.”
A hearing in the case has been rescheduled for November 25th.