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<br />Battling suspension, Otis Jackson hires lawyers to fight back

County Court Clerk Otis Jackson – whose suspension became public on Wednesday – has hired a team of attorneys to represent him in a lawsuit against each and every General Sessions Court judge. by Tony Jones
Special to the Tri-State Defender

County Court Clerk Otis Jackson – whose suspension became public on Wednesday – has hired a team of attorneys to represent him in a lawsuit against each and every General Sessions Court judge.

 otis jackson
Otis Jackson
 
Jackson’s legal defense team includes spokesman, J. Bailey. In an exclusive interview Wednesday with the New Tri-State Defender, Bailey said the lawsuit on Jackson’s behalf would be filed Thursday (Aug. 4).

General Session Court judges in the civil and criminal divisions voted to suspend Jackson with pay during a meeting last Friday (July 29) in the wake of a Shelby County Grand Jury’s July indictment of him for allegedly strong-arming the employees in his office to raise more than $50,000 to support his reelection bid. Ed Stanton Jr., whose son is U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton III, was named interim County Court Clerk.

The lawsuit explores redress of Jackson’s indictment and suspension for several reasons, including Bailey’s assertion that the meeting to consider suspension of Jackson was held illegally.

“They didn’t even keep a record of the meeting,” said Bailey. “An official meeting to suspend a publicly elected official and there is no record of the meeting? Not in this century.”

Jackson’s suspension was set to kick on Friday (Aug. 5). With 12 of 15 judges voting, Jackson was suspended for 60 days. Judges Chris Turner, John Donald and Deborah Henderson recused themselves from the vote.

The court clerk’s salary of $106,000 includes the right to appoint employees. Charged with two counts of official misconduct and two charges of official oppression, Jackson could face a maximum of six years in prison and a $3,000 fine for each charge, if convicted.

Bailey said it all stinks.

“The manner in which they decided to take action against him not only violated his rights, but we also feel that it violated the rights of the general electorate. Mr. Jackson is a legally elected representative and they did not operate under the auspices of the Sunshine Law,” said Bailey.

“They gave him no legal notice to allow him due process to come and defend himself or observe the action against him. They held the meeting in private, which is against the law. There is one item of record stating that a meeting was actually held and who was present. It was illegal.”

Bailey said Jackson’s legal team would explore whether Jackson was properly advised and represented by his prior legal representative, the county attorney’s office.

“They were advising Otis Jackson at the same time they were investigating their own client,” he said. “It is their investigation that was turned over to the attorney general.”

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