Ouster Suit Is Unlikely Against Indicted Rutherford Co. Sheriff

Posted at 11:01 PM, Jul 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-26 00:11:54-04

Rutherford County Sheriff, Robert Arnold, was charged charged with conspiracy, bribery and extortion, but remained in office, and an ouster suit is unlikely.

With Arnold standing firm that he wouldn't resign, the county has been stuck with a sheriff potentially looking at jail time.

Arnold is an indicted, sitting sheriff in Rutherford county and he'll be going to trial here in federal court in February.

The last time Sheriff Arnold was in the public eye, he was dodging reporters as he left the federal courthouse in downtown Nashville this past May.

Moments earlier he faced a judge on 14 criminal counts related to money made on electronic cigarettes sold in the Rutherford County jail.

A trial date was set for August, but Arnold's attorney asked for and was granted a delay until February of next year.

That's seven months with Arnold still on the job. The county commission passed a resolution asking him to resign, but Arnold said he won't.

The only other option is an ouster suit -- a civil court proceeding to remove Arnold from office. The commissioners and even some citizens hoped to file one.

"Be careful what you ask for Rutherford county," said NewsChannel 5 legal analyst Nick Leonardo. NewsChannel 5 has learned that barring any sudden reversal -- no ouster suit will be filed.

Why? Because that's likely exactly what Arnold wants. "If you are sheriff Arnold I'm sure you would encourage an ouster suit ... because you would get a look at the U.S. Attorney's hand," said Leonardo.

He added that the ouster suit could help Arnold in his criminal case. It would allow his attorneys to depose all of the witnesses against Arnold in the federal case before the criminal trial.

Prosecutors frown on that. Plus, an ouster suit could drag on. "It could take 18 months through the legal process for that to occur," said Leonardo.

So, it looks like no ouster suit will be filed. Sheriff Arnold will remain on the job, and Rutherford county will have to live with an indicted sheriff for another seven months.

Some state lawmakers are now working on legislation to make it easier to remove elected officials from office.