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Clarke County sheriff resigns ahead of impeachment hearing

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Wednesday that he has notified the Supreme Court of Alabama that Clarke County Sheriff William Ray Norris tendered his resignation to Governor Kay Ivey on May 24, to become effective on June 1.

This comes as the Supreme Court had ordered Norris to appear and answer a two-count information of impeachment on June 2.

The Information of Impeachment and Prayer for Ouster of Sheriff Norris was filed by Marshall on April 27 with the Supreme Court. The Attorney General’s Office began investigating the matter in early 2020, resulting in the decision to seek Norris’ removal from office. Norris was charged with four instances of corruption in office and 11 instances of commission of crimes involving moral turpitude. Unless and until proven guilty, Norris is presumed innocent.

Because impeachment proceedings determine whether officeholders are unfit for public office and should be removed, Marshall concluded in his court filing Tuesday that Norris’ resignation supersedes current impeachment proceedings, including the June 2 hearing. If the Supreme Court determines that Norris’ resignation nullifies the current impeachment proceedings, it will likely dismiss the case once Norris’ resignation is effective.

“It is more important than ever that the public be able to trust elected officials, especially when they occupy leadership positions within law enforcement,” stated Marshall. “It was my judgment that Sheriff Norris could no longer be trusted as a public servant or as a law enforcement official, and his resignation should be a welcome relief to the public. Sheriff Norris’ decision to resign from office, however, does not foreclose the possibility that criminal charges will be filed against him.”

The AG also commended the staff of his Special Prosecutions Division and thanked other agencies for their invaluable assistance in this matter, noting in particular the Alabama Securities Commission, the Alabama Department of Revenue’s Investigations Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Mobile Field Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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