Commissioners Uphold Legal Help For Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz

Monday, July 13th 2015, 10:57 am
By: News On 6

The Tulsa County Commission upheld its decision from a week ago to allow Sheriff Stanley Glanz to use public money to pay for attorneys during a grand jury investigation of his office.

Only one County Commissioner, John Smaligo, was at the meeting. Glanz is facing a grand jury investigation after former Reserve Deputy Bob Bates shot and killed suspect Eric Harris.

At a town hall meeting hosted by County Commissioner Karen Keith last week, about 50 community members spoke against the commissioners' decision. 

7/7/2015 Related Story: Public Expresses Opinions Over Tulsa County Sheriff's Office

After that meeting, the commissioners added an item to Monday's agenda to reconsider their vote. Commissioners Ron Peters and Karen Keith sent representatives to vote for them.

During discussion Monday, the Tulsa County DA's Office said public money can be used when the county representative isn't facing criminal charges.

"The sheriff is authorized to employ an outside law firm as general council to advise or represent the office in his performance of official duties," said Doug Wilson, Assistant District Attorney.

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Glanz didn't attend a meeting on June 29th when commissioners first voted on the issue - a vote many people in the room didn't agree with before and still don't support. But they say, at least this time, they had a chance to voice their opinions.

This time, the sheriff was in the meeting, as were members of his opposition.

"It's always a win when you can get the public in an event like this to be heard," said Andrew Harris, brother of Eric Harris. "Because, of course, they didn't even want the public to even speak on this - they had already made up their mind on what they were going to do before we even had the opportunity to speak on it."

Marq Lewis, one of the leaders of the We The People petition drive that brought about the grand jury investigation, agreed.

"I'm thankful they revisited it. We pretty much knew they were not going to revote overturn, so it is what it is," he said.

Using previous cases to show precedence, Assistant D.A. Wilson said school district, city, county and state representatives are to be provided legal representation if they face legal action for their work in office - so long as it isn't criminal.

Those opposing the sheriff said they don't think county leaders should be able to use public money when a grievance from the people has been filed against them.

"We're the underdogs; that's the way this model is," Lewis said. "They come to us to elect them, they get in power, and they take our money."

Although disappointed in the decision, the group calling for the grand jury investigation said they'll keep pushing forward to get Glanz out of office.

The county could stop paying Glanz's attorneys if he ever faces criminal charges. 

The organization "We The People Oklahoma" collected 6,000 signatures for a grand jury to be called.

The sheriff's legal team will argue before the State Supreme Court Tuesday to try to stop the grand jury investigation.