Henry Jackson, Smith County’s Precinct 1 Constable who is currently serving a jail sentence, was suspended from his elected position by a visiting judge in December, while a former Smith County Sheriff’s Office deputy was named as his interim replacement.
During a hearing before visiting judge Richard Beacom in Smith County’s 7th District Court on Wednesday, Dec. 13, the decision was made by Beacom to suspend Jackson and appoint Bobby Garmon as the replacement to run the constable’s office on a day-to-day basis in his absence.
Beacom faced two options in his decision into appointing an interim constable, having to choose whether to appoint Garmon, who was the top pick for the position by Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran; or to appoint Willie Mims, a Precinct 1 sergeant suggested by Jackson’s attorney, who had been running the operations of the office since Jackson’s incarceration.
According to Beacom’s decision, he elected to select the candidate with the support of the county judge, saying that if a jury decided to permanently remove Jackson from office, a replacement would be appointed by the Smith County Commissioners Court.
After the decision by Beacom was made, Garmon was sworn into his new role as Interim Smith County Constable for Precinct 1 the same day inside the Smith County Courthouse.
Garmon’s tenure in public service included a 33-year career in the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, retiring in 2012 as a chief deputy. He spent nearly 10 years serving under former Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith, monitoring the jail, its 350 employees, and a budget of $25 million.
Jackson began serving a six-month sentence in federal prison at the Seagoville Unit near Dallas on Friday, Oct. 27 after pleading guilty to four counts of willfully failing to pay his federal income taxes in September.
He was handed down the six-month federal prison sentence during a sentencing hearing Tuesday, Sept. 12, in front of Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
Along with his wife, Jackson failed to pay federal taxes in a three-year span from 2010 to 2013 totaling $157,489 before additional fines and penalties. Jackson has since filed the federal tax returns for those years and now owes over $160,000 in back taxes.
Despite the guilty plea, Jackson was initially allowed to continue to carry firearms while on supervised release and continue in his elected role as Smith County Constable, according to a ruling from a federal judge.
The ruling stated that unless Jackson tenders his resignation, he is able to hold his elected office until the end of his current term in December 2020, which also allows Jackson to continue to receive benefits and pay as Smith County Constable despite being incarcerated.
Under statutes in the state of Texas, a resident can file a petition to remove an elected official from office, though the petition must be filed “without judgment against [the elected official].” Afterwards, the local District Attorney’s office, as well as a county attorney’s office or the State of Texas’s Attorney General’s Office can take the case on behalf of the general public.
The Smith County District Attorney’s Office filed a petition on behalf of Smith County resident Steven Cheney that seeks the removal of Jackson from his office on Wednesday, Nov. 29.
According to the Smith County District Attorney’s Office, there are two reasons to seek Jackson’s removal as Smith County Constable Precinct 1, citing the belief that Jackson is incompetent to perform the duties of his position while incarcerated, as well as his failure to pay federal income tax for three years, calling the decision “a crime of moral turpitude.”
In a letter dated Thursday, Oct. 19, Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran requested that Jackson resign his office and waive his right to the pay and benefits associated with the office of Smith County Constable, stating that he had asked Jackson for his resignation privately, an offer Jackson declined.
“As you recall,” said Moran, in the letter, “I made this request to you privately and face-to-face in my office weeks ago. I did so privately in an effort to avoid embarrassing you publically with the request. At the time that we met, I made two requests of you. First, I requested that you resign outright. Second, and in the alternative that you decided not to resign, I requested that you waive receipt of any compensation from Smith County while you were incarcerated. I acknowledged at the time that under state law neither I, nor the Commissioners Court, had any authority to force you to take either action. But, I urged you to do so in the best interest of the citizens of Smith County and for the purpose of preserving the integrity of your office you currently hold.”
The case against Jackson and his failure to file federal income taxes was not the first time the suspended constable appeared in the light; he has faced legal issues, charged with seven felonies of Tampering with a Governmental Record and three misdemeanor counts of Official oppression for Alleged Sexual Harassment in Smith County in May 2008.
Jackson accepted a plea deal, pleading no contest to a Class A and Class C misdemeanors and was sentenced to six months deferred adjudication probation. He did not serve time in jail for the two charges; instead, Jackson paid $1,400 in restitution and a $100 fine.
Also in 2010, Jackson’s peace officer license was also placed on a probationary suspension for a six-month period.
Jackson received additional attention in April 2016 when he and his five-year-old granddaughter were shot by his wife, Jackson in the abdomen and the granddaughter near the ankle.
A Smith County Grand Jury declined to indict Meraland Taylor Jackson on two counts of Aggravated Assault in September 2016. According to the arrest warrant in the case, Meraland Jackson said she intentionally shot her husband because she believed he was having an affair with a co-worker.