Hiring decisions questioned on Day 3 of sheriff’s department, county trial

JACKSON, Tenn. — Day 3 of the civil trial over Sheriff John Mehr’s lawsuit picked up where the previous day left off, with the sheriff’s office defending hiring decisions.

Screen Shot 2020 10 15 At 2.29.13 Pm

First up was Gary Irwin, who acts as the Madison County Sheriff Budget Director, a position that Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris wants eliminated.

Irwin defended his role.

“To know how you’re going to adhere to the budget, day in and day out, month in and month out, year in and year out, I don’t believe the finance office could do that,” Irwin said.

The county disagreed, arguing that most of Irwin’s duties could be handled by others.

“How many people work in the finance office?” attorney Geoffrey Lindley asked.

“I believe there’s 8 or 9 there,” Irwin replied.

“You’re not sure though are you?” Lindley questioned.

“No,” Irwin said.

“You’re not sure of all their job responsibilities either, are you?” Lindley added.

“No,” Irwin replied.

After Irwin’s testimony, the county’s lawyers brought up their main argument, saying that the court could not award Sheriff Mehr with any more than he had requested from the county.

“If you’re inclined to give him something, and you start crunching the numbers, and you realize that 10 deputies with all the equipment is more and greater than $500,000, you can’t give him anymore than $500,000, that’s my point,” Lindley said.

Screen Shot 2020 10 15 At 2.29.28 Pm

The final witness for the sheriff’s department was CJC Administrator Tom Rudder, who defended the sheriff’s requirement of forcing some applicants to serve as correctional officers before becoming deputies.

Rudder claims it was actually beneficial in hiring. On the first day of the trial, the county argued that it was detrimental.

“I’ve seen officers that have said, ‘No I don’t want to work in the jail, I want to work on the road.’ And I’ve seen people go ‘Yes sir that’s fine, as long as there is that chance for us to go,'” Rudder said.

The trial is set to resume Friday morning at 9 a.m.

Categories: Local News, News