Court rejects sheriff's appeal

Georgia’s Supreme Court has rejected Lincoln County Sheriff Gerald Lawson’s appeal of lower court rulings that he must turn over funds generated by inmate telephone calls to the county commission.

The high court’s refusal to hear the case ends the sheriff’s appeal options and a two-year dispute with the county commission, according to Commission Chairman Walker Norman, who said in a news release today that the matter has cost taxpayers about $30,000 in legal fees.

In 2006, Sheriff Lawson stopped turning over profits from the inmate telephone system and deposited them in an account that he controlled, according to Mr. Norman. In 2007, Superior Court Judge Penn McWhorter concluded that the commission has the authority to require the sheriff to turn over that money to the county, but Sheriff Lawson appealed that ruling to the state Court of Appeals, which upheld the Superior Court order in a July 11 ruling.

The sheriff then appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court.

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