The Froniter

Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith on Friday said she will take comments from the public on the commissioners’ decision to approve the hiring of an outside law firm to represent Sheriff Stanley Glanz in his effort to fend off a grand jury inquiry.

The public meeting will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesday in Room 338 of the Tulsa County Courthouse Administration Building, 500 S. Denver Ave.

The time and room have yet to be determined, Keith said. Commissioners Ron Peters and John Smaligo are not expected to attend.

“If the public wants to weigh in on something, even if it is after the fact, I feel like I owe them that courtesy,” Keith said.

Commissioners on Monday voted 3-0 to approve a contract with the law firm of McDonald, McCann, Metcalf & Carwile to represent Glanz.
The firm will be paid between $165 and $265 per hour.

At least two people opposed to using public funds to hire private counsel interrupted the meeting to try to give their opinions. Commissioners stopped them, saying they could not speak because the agenda did not state that public comments would be taken.

County Commissioner Ron Peters said following that meeting that payment for Glanz’s outside counsel would be paid not by sales tax dollars but out of the sheriff’s office’s “fee account,” which is funded by things like civil warrants and fingerprinting services.

Keith said after the meeting that she regretted not being able to hear from the public and that she would try to schedule a time when public comments could be heard.

A grassroots organization named We The People Oklahoma collected more than 6,600 signatures of Tulsa County residents seeking a grand jury investigation of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office. Glanz, using the private law firm OK’d by commissioners, challenged the petition in district court. At the end of the hearing, Judge Rebecca Nightingale ordered that a grand jury be impaneled July 20.

Glanz announced Thursday night that he plans appeal Nightingale’s decision to the state Supreme Court.

We The People Oklahoma sought the grand jury investigation after Eric Harris was shot and killed by former reserve deputy Robert Bates during a sting operation to retrieve stolen guns.

Bates, a longtime friend of Glanz’s, said he intended to grab his Taser but pulled out his handgun instead.
The incident occurred April 2.

Bates, 73, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty.

Representatives of We The People Oklahoma and others who attended the county commissioners’ meeting said they believed state statutes would not allow the sheriff’s office to hire outside counsel.

Typically, when the sheriff’s office is sued, the district attorney will act as representation.

However, in this case, District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler has recused himself, since his office has filed second-degree manslaughter charges against Bates.

We The People Oklahoma has maintained that if the DA cannot act on behalf of the sheriff’s office for any reason, that leaves just two options: Utilize in-house general counsel or pay for outside services. Since the Sheriff’s Office employs its own general counsel, the only option remaining for Glanz was to pay for Carwile out of his own pocket, the grassroots organization has argued.