Charges make sheriff’s job more difficult

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Whether innocent or guilty of the charges levied against him,Lincoln County Sheriff Wiley Calcote can expect his job to get moredifficult during the legal process, according to law enforcementofficers unrelated to the case.

Calcote was presented with a 15-count indictment Wednesday on avariety of charges from embezzlement by a public official andtampering with a witness, both felonies, to failure to confineinmates, a misdemeanor.

A court date has not been set by the special circuit judgeappointed to preside over the course following the recusal of both14th Circuit Court District judges.

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Dee Bates, district attorney for the 14th district, said that asthe prosecutor in the case he could not comment on the difficultieswhich the sheriff may be facing.

However, Buddy McDonald, district attorney for the neighboring15th Circuit Court District, said it becomes much harder for anylaw enforcement officer to continue to perform their duties whenunder the shadow of an indictment.

“Any time a law enforcement officer is charged with a crime,there is a potential problem with other cases that he might havebeen involved in,” McDonald said.

People are innocent until proven guilty, McDonald said.

That leaves little room for courtroom maneuvering for thedefense to introduce the indictment in an attempt to cloud thejury, which might lead them to reasonable doubt, McDonald said.However, if the source of the indictment or a particular charge hassome bearing on the case, it can be introduced.

“It has to have some relevancy to the trial in order for it tobe entered,” McDonald said.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle of a sheriff continuing to pursuejustice while under indictment is perception, he said.

“The public knows about (the indictment) and it can have someinfluence on a jury,” McDonald said.

Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones, who took office at the sametime as Calcote in January 2004, said he certainly predicts sometough times ahead.

“Evidently, he’s messed up and has a whole lot of people mad athim,” Jones said. “You know his administration will be hampered.He’s got quite a row to hoe.”

Pike County Sheriff Mark Sheppard said anyone under indictmentwould battle similar perceptions.

“I think it would make anyone’s job more difficult, whetheryou’re a sheriff or whatever you do,” he said. “It’s a difficultjob in the best of circumstances.”

Both sheriffs say they’ve developed a friendly professionalrelationship with Calcote during the course of their duties andexpect he’ll be able to perform his duties appropriately.

“I hope he weathers the storm OK,” Jones said. “We’ve developeda friendship since he took office.”

Sheppard agreed.

“I’ve a tremendous working relationship with everyone,” he said.”Criminals don’t follow county lines and spill over is notuncommon.”

Sheppard said he worked with Calcote on at least two cases andthe county jails would often hold prisoners for the other.