I am trying to catch my breath after hearing some shattering news out of the Texas Panhandle.
I need to be very careful with what I say with this blog post.
A Randall County grand jury has indicted Sheriff Joel Richardson on a charge of “misuse of his position.” He faces prosecution on a second-degree felony. I saw this news and, to be honest, it took my breath away. I am utterly floored.
Nothing I have read offers any specifics about what the grand jury has determined to be worthy of prosecution. Thus, I cannot comment on the allegation.
I do want to make a couple of points, one about the sheriff and another about the process.
First, I long have considered Joel Richardson to be one of the finest law enforcement officials I’ve ever known. I got to know Richardson while I worked as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News. He always has been a stand-up cop, a fine leader of men and women and is highly respected among his law enforcement peers. Richardson is not running for re-election this year.
Second, I served on a Randall County grand jury years ago. We would meet regularly and hear complaints brought to us by the district attorney’s office. None of the complaints we heard rose to anything approaching the level of what the current grand jury has delivered regarding Joel Richardson.
I can say this without hesitation: Grand juries do not indict people with Joel Richardson’s community standing without considering seriously the complaint that has been brought forward. I am not passing judgment on Richardson. I am saying that grand jurors take their responsibility seriously.
I want to believe in the sheriff.
Now, though, I need to catch my breath.