The Thursday order affirmed a 2007 order from Superior Court Judge Penn McWhorter who also concluded the commission has the authority to require the sheriff to turn over those funds to the county.
Judge McWhorter was appointed to the case after both judges from Lincoln County disqualified themselves from the dispute in which Sheriff Lawson stopped turning over profits from the inmate telephone system and deposited them in a special account which he controlled, according to a press release from County Commission Chairman Walker Norman.
Legal fees for the case are expected to exceed $30,000, Mr. Norman said. In addition to the Commissioners’ legal cost, under the law the county must also pay Sheriff Lawson’s attorney fees including the cost of the appeal. Mr. Norman said he will ask that Sheriff Lawson immediately turn over the balance of any money on hand and will ask for a complete accounting of monies already spent.