I’ve been following the Sheriff Hill story fairly closely (thanks to DvlDogLvr for this update), and it looks like the deputies are getting closer to being reinstated.
There were court dates both yesterday and today down in Georgia. Yesterday’s case prohibited Hill from any acts of vengeance against the deputies that he fired his first day in office.
News-Daily.com - Through a temporary restraining order, U.S. District Court Judge Charles A. Moye Jr. prohibited Hill from taking any further personnel or retaliatory action.
That ruling did not restore the deputies to their positions, but guaranteed that the deputies, now acting as prison guards, would not be targeted by Hill again. It could also become a major issue.
Don Foster and Evan Kaine, who are separate legal representatives for Hill, cited a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling which protects the sheriff from litigation as an officer of the state.
Miller said the ruling needed clarification and could easily be overturned because it was a 6 to 5 ruling when it was last litigated in 2002.
However, he said ultimately, the Hill controversy could reach the question of who is liable for a sheriff’s illegal actions - the state or the county for which he works.
Who is liable for his actions? I believe the state of Georgia should be held ultimately responsible. If this is found to be the case, Hill could be relieved of his duties by Georgia’s governor. His removal would be a huge victory for the deputies and the people of Clayton county.
Today’s case dealt directly with Hill who violated a court order to reinstate the deputies in their former positions. Because Hill didn’t follow the order, he was found in contempt.
WSBTV.com - Hill must comply with the decision by noon on Feb. 10 or face a possible fine of $1,000 a day, Judge Ben Miller said in his ruling.
Hill confused rehiring with reinstating the employees, Miller said.
“Reinstatement means to put back where you were, and the sheriff has not done that,” the judge said.
Will Hill reinstate the deputies as Miller has ordered? Not right away. However, I do think he will follow the order at the eleventh hour (literally speaking) in order to avoid any further action from the courts and removal. Could he dodge the bullet and keep his job if he follows orders? Yes. Should he? No.
“There are still mixed feelings,” said Lt. Charlotte Nelson, one of the fired deputies. “I just want to be able to do my job.”
The rest of us want you to be able to do your job as well, Lieutenant.