By DEUCE NIVEN
Jody Greene “is a Usurper of authority and is unlawfully holding the Office of Sheriff of Columbus County,” a complaint filed by former Sheriff Lewis Hatcher on Friday says.
Hatcher, with attorney’s Oscar Blanks and Heath Nance, filed the complaint, demanding a jury trial, in Columbus County Superior Court on Friday afternoon.
Blanks said he is asking for a hearing before a Superior Court judge “as soon as possible,” that that Hatcher should be returned to office until a certificate of election is issued for the office.
Defendants named in the complaint include Greene, “Individually and in his disputed official capacity as sheriff,” all seven Columbus County Commissioners, and County Manager Mike Stephens, his name misspelled Stevens on the complaint.
In the complaint Hatcher maintains that:
- Greene was sworn as Sheriff on Dec. 3, 2018 without a certificate of election
- Greene was sworn as Sheriff despite pending protest into the Nov. 6, 2018, the Columbus County Board of Elections informed that appeals in at least some of those protests would be filed prior to Dec. 3, 2018
- That Greene’s “refusal to step aside” as sheriff “places Columbus County in legal jeopardy in that all arrests and searches are unlawful and illegal subjecting Columbus County to potential civil unrest and increasing civil liability.”
- That currently sworn deputies “are operating without the cover” of law
- That Greene has not met “all Constitutional and Statutory requirements for Office.”
- That commissioners and the county manager “acted outside the purpose and beyond the scope of such agency and employment when they failed to take action to establish and support the Constitutional and Statutory Sheriff of Columbus County, Sheriff Hatcher.”
- That Greene is a resident of either Robeson County or Horry County, South Carolina
- That Greene’s oath of office is also invalid because it was signed by state Rep. Brenden Jones of Tabor City, although the oath was administered in open court by District Court Judge Ashley Gore
Hatcher also maintains that Greene “has not shown he is even qualified to vote in the election for the Sheriff of Columbus County for failing to establish residency and therefore should be disqualified for office.”
Hatcher asks the court for “a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction” that would require Greene, commissioners and the county manager to recognize Hatcher “as the true and indeed Constitutional and Statutory Sheriff of Columbus County.”
Hatcher also seeks monetary damages, attorney fees, legal costs, and “such other and further relief as the court deems proper.”
Look for updates to this developing story here as events warrant, and the full story in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.