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Waller denies grand jury room improprieties

Sheriff Larry Waller has distributed a news release denying he or his deputies monitored grand jury proceedings during the Grier Smith deliberations in June. The release follows in full: Following allegations that the security camera in the Grand Jury Room was improperly used, an investigation was initiated on July 15, approximately two weeks ago. The allegations were found to be untruthful and were the result of intentional rumor spreading as initially five individuals were named as being involved, two of which have been cleared because one accused deputy arrived at the courthouse only after the Grand Jury was dismissed and the other was never there. After the Brian Nichols shooting in the Fulton County Courthouse, where a Superior Court Judge, a court reporter, a deputy sheriff, and a federal agent, in his own home, were killed, courthouse security became an even more relevant issue in Lamar County. Courthouse security plans were updated, redirecting traffic in the building, moving the metal detector to a location that could be monitored, and plans for physical security of the Judges and other court personnel were instituted. Cameras, considered redundant at the Sheriff’s Office were relocated to the courthouse with one camera in the small courtroom for County Commission meetings and Juvenile court. The cameras monitoring the courthouse are video only with no audio capability. During the Grand Jury deliberation the District Attorney called for emergency assistance in controlling an attorney and a deputy immediately responded to the scene. When the deputy left the Sheriff’s security office the other deputy immediately changed the camera to a full observation of the courtroom to monitor the altercation. Upon arrival of the deputy at the scene the camera was again switched back to view the other parts of the courthouse. Sheriff Waller said, ‘The Sheriff is charged with the responsibility of security of the court and for everyone in the courthouse. We will continue even though a few create and spread rumors. I have spoken with the Grand Jury many times and I again assure everyone of the dignity and secrecy of that process. A complete report of the actions of all involved has been prepared, and will be presented to Judge Tommy Wilson next week.’

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