02/23/2001

Lawyers ask court to let ex-sheriff attend jury sessions
[DeKalb County, GA]

Don Plummer
February 20, 2001
Copyright 2001 Cox News Service
Cox News Service
February 20, 2001

(DEKALB COUNTY, Ga.) -- Former Sheriff Sidney Dorsey wants to sit in when a special grand jury begins investigating possible corruption during his tenure. Dorsey's lawyers filed a court motion Tuesday arguing that DeKalb prosecutors are trying to circumvent the law by keeping the former sheriff out when a special grand jury begins work next Tuesday.

The filing says Georgia law allows current and former elected officials to receive prior notice of an indictment, to hear secret testimony and to present their case to grand jurors without being subject to cross-examination.

DeKalb District Attorney J. Tom Morgan said the law does not apply to special investigative grand juries, only to grand juries considering indictments.

"The purpose of this grand jury is to investigate the operations of the jail and the Sheriff's Department," Morgan said Tuesday. "If an indictment is to be returned, we will follow the requirements of the law."

But Dorsey lawyer Brian Steel disputed Morgan's distinction between an investigative and a regular, indictment-issuing grand jury.

"I believe we're on great footing with the law," Steel said. "This grand jury was empaneled specifically to look at corruption" under Dorsey.

Dorsey left office Dec. 31, after losing in a runoff last August to Derwin Brown. Brown was slain Dec. 15, shortly before he was to be sworn in as sheriff. Brown had promised to reform the office, and authorities have called his killing an assassination. A second grand jury is to be empaneled Tuesday to begin investigating Brown's slaying.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for interim Sheriff Thomas Brown, who is not related to Derwin Brown, said the county will change its requirements for collateral posted by bail bond companies.

Several bond agents said that sheriff's officials told them Friday the county will begin requiring they post $150,000 cash as collateral. Companies now can post $50,000 cash and $100,000 in property. Brown's office reported Feb. 2 that outstanding bond forfeitures grew to more than $240,000 under Dorsey. Forfeitures are the amounts bond companies must pay the county when a defendant doesn't return for court.

Eight candidates have filed to run in the March 20 special election for sheriff. J.F. McNaughton, a retired Lockheed employee, said this week he is withdrawing.

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