Jackson County supervisors split on indicted sheriff's future - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Jackson County supervisors split on indicted sheriff's future

Sheriff Mike Byrd's mug shot from Friday's arrest. As an elected official, the sheriff does not have to resign while under indictment. (Photo source: Ocean Springs Police Dept.) Sheriff Mike Byrd's mug shot from Friday's arrest. As an elected official, the sheriff does not have to resign while under indictment. (Photo source: Ocean Springs Police Dept.)
JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Jackson County supervisors are split on whether Sheriff Mike Byrd should resign, now that he's been indicted.

Tuesday, supervisors went into an executive session with District Attorney Tony Lawrence saying only that they were talking about litigation. No one would comment on whether that 30 to 40 minute closed door session centered on the 31 count indictment against Sheriff Byrd.

Friday, the four term sheriff was charged with crimes including extortion, perjury and fraud. Shortly after Byrd was indicted, Supervisor Melton Harris called for his resignation. But as a board, supervisors are far from unified on the topic.

"The board has not made a decision, as far as collectively, on what should happen," said Harris.

Board President Mike Mangum and Supervisor Barry Cumbest would not even give their personal views.

"Nah, I won't comment. I sure won't," Cumbest said.

"I would say I don't have any comment at this time," Mangum said.

Supervisor Troy Ross said it is up to the sheriff whether to stay or walk away.

"I think it is a personal decision for him," Ross said.

But longtime Supervisor John McKay has a different opinion.

"Of course, that is his decision. But from my personal point of view, it would probably benefit Jackson County if he would to do so," McKay said.

Melton Harris has been the most outspoken about Byrd.

"I have not changed my opinion on his resignation," Supervisor Harris said.

With several lawsuits involving the sheriff pending, Harris said the sheriff staying on could cause more problems.

"I think it will monopolize the county time. And if you look at the charges, the indictment, I think will be difficult to escape all of them," Harris said. "Some may resent the fact that I have been vocal enough to say what I believe should happen, but I will not back down."

Although supervisors do have some strong opinions, they are just that - opinions. Byrd is an elected officials and the county only controls his budget.

"It is out of our hands now," said Harris. "It will be the court to determine when or if he should be removed from that position."

Supervisors do agree on one thing: the Byrd case needs to be resolved soon.

"Whether it is an acquittal, conviction, or resignation, I think it is in the county's best interest if it's resolved quickly, so we can get the cloud off of Jackson County," Ross said.

Supervisors also voted on Tuesday to hire two attorneys to represent Sheriff Byrd and several deputies in the civil case involving former Ocean Springs Alderman James Hagan. Hagan is suing for $30 million after being charged in a child porn case that was eventually thrown out due to a lack of evidence.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly