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Friday, April 14, 2006

Alabama state law is weird.

I mention this because of something I didn't know until earlier today. The coastal counties of Alabama are minus one elected sheriff after former Mobile County Sheriff Jack Tillman pled guilty to misdemeanor counts of perjury and an ethics violation as part of a plea agreement that kept him out of prison and removed him from office mere months before he would have lost his seat anyway. I think in this sort of instance, the most important thing is to get such an individual out of office, so I don't begrudge him his short suspended sentence and $13,000 fine. The important thing is that he's out, and the people of Mobile County can move forward. This is unfortunate, but far from abnormal except insofar as he's but one of many elected officals to be removed from office or, in one instance, be in the process of being impeached (for buying over $9,000 in Mardi Gras beads using school vending machine money) in Mobile and Baldwin Counties in the last year or two. That said, I won't bore you with those details. No, what is weird is the legal selection process for an interim sheriff.

According to Alabama state law, should the sheriff be unable to complete his or her full elected term, his responsibilities are delegated to the county coroner. Should there be a vacancy in the office of county coroner, the County Probate Judge may appoint a "special coroner" to fulfill the duties of the county coroner until the next election. In 1987, the voters of Mobile County, AL, decided to replace the county coroner with an appointed medical examiner, hence, creating an automatic vacancy in that position, a vacancy that was unnoticed and unlamented until now. At 1 PM Central Daylight Time, that's exactly what occurred when Dale Evans, Sr., a former agent with the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Customs Service, was sworn in as the "special coroner" of Mobile County, thereby becoming the interim sheriff.

I wonder what odd laws and rules of succession are lurking on the books in other states, just waiting for the wrong person to fuck up...

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