Judge rules Constable Henry Jackson will be suspended

SMITH COUNTY - UPDATE: A Judge has ruled Constable Jackson will be suspended.

Bobby Garmin, former Smith County Sheriff's Office Deputy, has been named interim Precinct 1 Constable.

A $10,000 bond has been set for Jackson.

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A visiting judge will decide on Thursday whether to suspend Smith County Precinct 1 Constable Henry Jackson without pay until a court case asking for his removal from office is resolved. 

A hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. before visiting judge Richard Beacom on whether to grant the state’s request to suspend Jackson, who currently is serving a six-month sentence in federal prison for failure to pay income taxes, and appoint a suitable replacement to run the constable’s office in his absence. Jackson’s attorneys have requested a continuance to delay the decision.

On Nov. 29, the Smith County District Attorney's Office filed an amended petition on behalf of Smith County resident Steven Cheney asking for Jackson's removal from office.

“To allow Constable Jackson to continue to receive a salary from Smith County funds, said public funds received from the taxpayers of Smith County, while not working nor able to earn his salary because he is in a federal correctional facility upon conviction for a federal offense flies in the face of public trust and confidence in elected officials,” the petition reads.

Under state statutes, to remove an elected official from office, a resident “without judgment against them” must file a petition. The DA's office, a county attorney's office or the state Attorney General's Office then can pick up the case on behalf of the general public. Cheney’s petition was filed on Oct. 27, and he has no active role in the current lawsuit.

In this case, the Smith County DA's office argues there are two causes for action to remove Jackson from office.

The first is that he’s incompetent to do the job he was elected to do. The DA's office argues that because Jackson is incarcerated, he cannot perform the duties for which he was elected. That includes serving civil papers, warrants, subpoenas and other documents from the court, as well as the general law enforcement duties of a peace officer. 

The second is that Jackson’s failure to pay three years worth of federal income taxes constitutes as official misconduct. They argue that failing to pay taxes is a crime involving moral turpitude, including crimes that are intentionally dishonest for purposes of personal gain.

“Willfully failing to file a tax return would necessarily constitute an 'intentionally corrupt failure, refusal or neglect of an officer to perform a duty imposed on the offer by law’ as the term official misconduct is defined by law,” the petition reads.

The case will be heard in Smith County’s 7th District Court. Judge Kerry Russell recused himself from the matter, which is required by state law in cases asking for the removal of a public official. The Smith County District Attorney’s Office is the prosecutor, with former judge Cynthia Kent on as a special prosecutor helping the office.

The DA's office is asking for a jury trial in the case.

Twitter: @TMTFaith

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