Closings & Delays across the Tennessee Valley

Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin facing a number of court battles during final months in office

DECATUR, Ala. -- Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin isn’t seeking reelection, but she remains the sheriff until January. The next six months may include a lot of time in court for the sheriff.

Franklin lost a key court battle in April, when a judge dismissed charges against her former jail warden Leon Bradley. He’d been accused of tampering with government records. The charge alleged Bradley was taking sheriff’s office records and sharing them Glenda Lockhart, a Morgan County blogger critical of Franklin.

There was a hearing in the Bradley case in April, with his lawyers arguing Franklin and the sheriff’s office had misled the court in getting a search warrant for Bradley’s home and Lockhart’s business and engaged Lockhart’s grandson in an unlawful search before paying him as an informant.

The judge in the case not only threw out the charges against Bradley, the court found Franklin and her key deputies had misled and tried to cover up related sheriff’s office crimes.

Franklin has denied wrongdoing.

During the April hearing, Madison County Sheriff’s Office Captain Michael Salomonsky said he was present in a meeting when sheriff’s office officials and Franklin discussed keylogger software being used to monitor Lockhart’s computer.

Franklin and other sheriff’s office officials denied any use of keylogger software – which allows the user to keep track of what’s typed on a computer – in the Bradley case.

Franklin and the sheriff’s office employees responded to the court’s April ruling, filing a response brief after the ruling.

They argued Salomonsky misunderstood what technology they were talking about, that they had legal probable cause for the search involving Bradley and Lockhart, and that they didn’t mislead the court.

Bradley has also sued Franklin, alleging a range of misdeeds, including abuse of power, enrichment from office and discrimination.

Franklin is also involved in a lawsuit filed by blogger Lover over the search and seizure of her computers in connection with the Bradley case.

And, looming over all of it, what’s the status of a federal investigation into the Morgan County Sheriff’s office?

During the Bradley hearing, deputies were asked about why they contacted fellow sheriff’s office employees, asking what they’d told the FBI during interviews.

In early May Franklin’s lawyers told a judge they’d learned a grand jury was meeting May 21 to hear testimony about the sheriff’s office conduct in the Bradley case.