MONTAGUE (KFDX/KJTL) — The judge presiding over the hearings in a petition to remove Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde from office has ruled to temporarily suspend him as sheriff.
On Thursday, February 23, 2023, in the 97th District Courtroom in Montague, Judge Lee Gabriel granted the motion made by the State to suspend Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde for the duration of proceedings.
The decision came at the conclusion of a hearing in which several motions were addressed, including a motion to disqualify 97th District Attorney Casey Hall, who represents the State of Texas in the case.
Judge Gabriel denied that motion, allowing Hall to remain a part of the counsel with attorney and petitioner Frank Douthitt on behalf of the State.
The hearing on Thursday also addressed a portion of the petition that requests the suspension of Sheriff Lyde and the appointment of an interim sheriff until a final verdict is reached following a jury trial set at a later date yet to be determined to remove Sheriff Lyde from office.
During Thursday’s hearing, several current employees of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office testified under oath about their working conditions and the overall morale of CCSO employees, including two who were among the four Sheriff Lyde placed on administrative leave on January 17, 2023.
One witness testified that Sheriff Lyde made it a habit to frequently leave the CCSO facility and that he appeared to be making other things a priority over his role as the Sheriff of Clay County. The witness testified that Lyde has previously asked CCSO employees to do things that are either illegal or very close to it.
That witness testified that he never spoke out due to previous instances in which the witness felt Sheriff Lyde took retaliatory actions against employees who made complaints about him.
“I feared retaliation if I spoke out against the sheriff,” the witness said.
Other witnesses testified regarding remarks made by Sheriff Lyde aside from the three latest indictments for official oppression stemming from alleged sexual harassment committed by Lyde against female employees, including alleging Sheriff Lyde made several more comments of a sexual nature as well as a number of racist comments.
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