Johnson City Press Saturday, July 26, 2014
Opinion

Why wasn’t sheriff of Unicoi County arrested?

October 20th, 2011 6:42 am by Staff Report

Here we go again. Last month we asked if former District Attorney Clark Joe Crumley received preferential treatment after he was stopped by Jonesborough Public Safety officers in a traffic pursuit that ended with the former prosecutor bumping his car into a police cruiser. Many of you told us that had you been the one involved in such a chase, you doubt you would have been allowed to turn yourself in more than a week later — a privilege that was afforded to Crumley.

We agree.

Now comes word that a judge decided it was not necessary to arrest a local sheriff facing 10 serious felony charges. As Press Erwin Bureau chief Brad Hicks reported last week, the charges against Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris stem from a pair of Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probes — one initiated in 2009 and the other in 2010 — that overlapped and were eventually combined.

District Attorney General Tony Clark told the Press last week the TBI had intended to arrest Harris, but was discouraged from doing so by Criminal Court Judge Lynn Brown. Clark said both he and the TBI were opposed to Brown’s decision.

“Judge Brown said that was his decision, that it is his call,” Clark said. “I respectfully disagreed with him and he respectfully disagreed with me, and a summons was issued in lieu of an arrest and that’s the only explanation he gave me.”

Perhaps the judge felt Harris was not a flight risk. If so, does Brown apply this exception equally to all defendants within his jurisdiction?

We don’t presume to pass judgment on Harris. His guilt or innocence is something the courts will decide. We do ask, however, that the sheriff be treated the same as any other defendant who is facing similar charges.

Justice should indeed be blind in this case.

comments powered by Disqus