Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens filed a lawsuit Tuesday in hopes of keeping his job.
Bivens was defeated in the August election by Randy White. After White's name was certified to appear on the ballot and early voting was underway, the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission determined that White did not meet the requirements to be sheriff. They said he needed three years of full-time experience as a certified law enforcement officer in the last ten years to qualify for the position, and he did not meet that requirement.
Despite the controversy, voters chose White on election day by 703 votes.
Now Bivens has filed a lawsuit against White and the Monroe County Election Commission and its four members. It asks for Bivens to be named the winner of the election or that the 2014 election for sheriff be voided. The suit contends that White did not meet the qualifications to be sheriff, and votes cast for him are not legal votes and should not have been counted.
This is the second lawsuit filed related to this case. The Monroe County Democratic Party filed a similar suit before the election.
Bivens is still the sheriff of Monroe County. Sheriff-elect Randy White would take office on September 1.
Statement by Jim Bilbo, attorney for Sheriff Bill Bivens:
Based on the attached documents it patently appears that candidate White lacks the required experience and qualifications for POST certification and that he was properly de-certified. According to Tennessee law, White did not possess the required qualifications to be elected sheriff.
Because we are a nation of laws, the law applies to all of us equally and none of us are above the law, we are simply asking the Court to enforce the Tennessee statutes that apply to this situation.
Tennessee statutory law , in part states that "in order to qualify for election…to the office of sheriff a person shall…have at least three (3) years of full-time experience as a POST commission certified law enforcement officer in the previous ten (10) years or at least three (3) years of full-time experience as a state or federal certified law enforcement officer with training equivalent to that required by the POST commission in the previous ten (10) years…" (Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-8-102)
A "Full-time police officer" means any person employed by any municipality or political subdivision of the state of Tennessee whose primary responsibility is the prevention and detection of crime, and the apprehension of offenders, and whose primary source of income is derived from employment as a police officer. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 38-8-101)
The POST Commission determined that candidate White did not have the statutorily required experience as a full-time police officer in order to be certified. As a result, he did not and does not qualify for election to the office of sheriff. We are asking the Court to enforce the law and to declare incumbent candidate Bill Bivens to be the duly elected winner of the office of sheriff of Monroe County Tennessee.