WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The next hearing on a petition to remove Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde from office will be held on Thursday, February 23, 2023.
The hearing will be held in the Montague County Courthouse on Thursday, February 23 at 10:00 am. Clay County officials said this hearing will address the “motions” and was originally scheduled for Tuesday, February 14, 2023, but has been rescheduled.
Thursday’s scheduled hearing would be the first in-person hearing on the petition to remove Lyde in more than a month. After a brief hearing on January 17, a Zoom hearing was held on January 30, presided over by the new judge in the case, Lee Gabriel.
Judge Gabriel was appointed after 97th District Judge Jack McGaughey voluntarily resigned on January 20, 2023. Sheriff Lyde’s defense attorney Randall D. Moore filed a motion to resign on January 17, just a few hours before a hearing Judge McGaughey was to preside over.
Since the January 17 abbreviated hearing, several more motions, replies, responses and orders have been filed with the Clay County District Secretary’s office in this case.
Motion to hold Sheriff Lyde in contempt of court
On January 24, Attorney Frank Douthitt and the State of Texas, represented by 97th District Attorney Casey Hall, filed a motion to hold Sheriff Lyde in contempt of court for violating a temporary restraining order originally signed on January 2 2023 and extended to January 17.
Under the restraining order, Sheriff Lyde was prohibited from retaliatory action against current Clay County Sheriff’s Office employees and was not permitted to change the employment status or pay rate of any employee, among other things. other provisions.
The State alleges that a violation of that order occurred when, on January 19, 2023, Sheriff Lyde placed on administrative leave four CCSO employees, two of whom were alleged victims of sexual harassment committed by Sheriff Lyde that led to his most recent allegations of official oppression.
The state said in the motion that because two discharged employees are witnesses and two are victims, Sheriff Lyde’s actions are clearly retaliatory.
Proposal to lift the interim restraining order
In response to the motion to contempt Sheriff Lyde, the defense filed a response and a counterclaim, denying all of the allegations made in the petition.
The defense then sought to strike the temporary restraining order on the grounds that Hall and Clay County Attorney Seth Slagle, an original plaintiff, had been barred from serving as an attorney in the hearing, arguing that Hall is a witness key to the case and that Slagle is the sheriff’s advocate on a point of law.
The defense then asked the court to dissolve the temporary restraining order against Sheriff Lyde because it violates Texas state law. The defense also commented on complaints against Sheriff Lyde which led to his most recent allegations of official oppression.
“It is truly astonishing that these complainants have complained of a hostile work environment in which they have been sexually harassed to the point where three charges of official oppression have been issued, yet they are now complaining that they are not in the workplace they are complain, with pay and no loss of rights or benefits,” reads the response.
Sheriff Lyde also filed a counterclaim, claiming the petition was filed in bad faith.
The motion to dismiss the restraining order was granted by Judge Gabriel on January 30.
Sheriff Lyde explains administrative leave
After the temporary restraining order was lifted, Sheriff Lyde resumed posting weekly Facebook Live videos on the Clay County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, which he has done regularly since taking office.
In a Facebook Live video posted Jan. 30, Sheriff Lyde said the judge ruled the restraining order was “defective in appearance” and said he “wanted to clarify a few things here” regarding the four CCSO employees. placed on administrative leave.
“They didn’t lose their sword, they didn’t lose their gun,” Sheriff Lyde said. “They have not lost the ability to do off-duty work. They haven’t lost any pay or benefits and are actually still racking up vacation and sick leave.”
Sheriff Lyde said the four employees were placed on administrative leave due to his obligation to perform his duties as Clay County Sheriff, and that for those four employees to come to work would be a violation of the terms of his constraint.
“Those people weren’t fired, they really didn’t lose anything. I’m home alone,” Sheriff Lyde said. “They have not been harmed in any way and are certainly not in danger of being fired.”
The State responds to the application for disqualification
On February 2, 2023, Slagle voluntarily withdrew from the case and, in doing so, made the disqualification request a moot point.
A response was filed on February 7, in which the state argues that Hall is in fact not a key witness to the facts because before Sheriff Lyde was indicted on official oppression charges in 2021, Hall recused herself in those proceedings penalties.
Because Hall chose to voluntarily withdraw from other prosecutions, the state says there is no conflict of interest, so they asked the judge to dismiss the motion filed by Lyde’s defense team.
State files amended the petition to remove Sheriff Lyde
On February 6, the state filed an amended petition to remove Lyde on February 6, again calling for Lyde’s immediate suspension without pay and the appointment of a temporary acting sheriff.
In the amended petition, the state alleges that Sheriff Lyde “engaged in willful and unlawful conduct relating to official duties entrusted to the administration of justice or the execution of the law.”
The state said in its amended petition to remove Sheriff Lyde from office that he “is a corrupt public servant” and engaged in “a pattern of official misconduct” which has resulted in five indictments of official oppression.
Included as examples of his alleged misconduct by the state were the “unlawful detention of Clay County citizens” which led to his first two official charges of oppression, threats made against Clay County citizens, and charges of sexual harassment against him.
“Sheriff Lyde is guilty of a number of egregious acts of corruption and official misconduct,” the amended petition reads.
The state then recommended that Sheriff Lyde be suspended while the case progressed. They also recommended that Constable Sidney Horton be named to serve as acting sheriff.
Most recently, on Monday, February 13, the state notified Lyde’s defense team of its intention to introduce more than 400 pages of DPS documents relating to Lyde’s employment there.
As of Thursday, February 16, 2023, Sheriff Lyde has 5 pending charges of official oppression against him, a pending civil suit, and the four CCSO employees remain on administrative leave after nearly a month.