Knox sheriff says office is not responsible for improper arrests

Knox Co. sheriff goes on the record saying his office is not responsible for improper arrests

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"We committed absolutely no errors. As a matter of fact, we went above and beyond what we should have done by checking and making verbal checks to find out if warrants were valid," said Sheriff Jones. "We committed absolutely no errors. As a matter of fact, we went above and beyond what we should have done by checking and making verbal checks to find out if warrants were valid," said Sheriff Jones.
"My biggest concern is that someone's personal liberties are being taken away," said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. "My biggest concern is that someone's personal liberties are being taken away," said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones addressed the Knox County Commission to make a comment on the record after emails and county officials say numerous people were arrested improperly.

A number of emails released to 6 News say the wrongful arrests were made because of errors in Knox County Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey's office. The sheriff wants the community to know his office goes above and beyond to makes sure no one's freedoms are taken away by mistake.

6 News was in the Fourth Sessions courtroom Monday when a woman's case was called. Her attorney asked the judge to make a correction for the record.

The attorney said the woman's case had been dismissed because she paid all her court costs, but the information was entered into the system as a conviction. According to emails from an assistant district attorney to the district attorney, this is happening all too often.

Knox County Commissioner Mike Hammond gave the sheriff and the criminal clerk an option to make a comment for the record.

"There had been people, I believe 19 over the past year and a half, that had been arrested improperly in Knox County," said Knox County Commissioner Mike Hammond.

Sheriff Jones says his office is not to blame for the mistakes.

"We committed absolutely no errors. As a matter of fact, we went above and beyond what we should have done by checking and making verbal checks to find out if warrants were valid," said Sheriff Jones.

Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey was there for part of the work session, but left before the issue was addressed.

She told 6 News on Friday she knew of only one improper arrest, but said her office was not at fault.

However, in an email from Assistant Attorney General Samyah Jubran to District Attorney Randy Nichols in September 2012, Jubran lists a number of issues with the clerk's office, saying clerks are entering data incorrectly in the Justice Information Management System and are giving defendants inaccurate information.

Jubran's email says the clerks are issuing warrants in error and defendants are getting arrested in error. She says the Clerk's office needs accountability.

In October 2012, Jubran said another defendant was arrested in error due to a mistake by the clerk's office.

Jubran sent an email in December 2012 to the DA saying she asked McCroskey if she could train the clerks, and that McCroskey said no.

Jubran emailed the DA and law director in March 2013, saying due to a clerical error, she had to dismiss several cases. She says people sent more time in jail than they should have and errors in the clerk's office led to other people arrested when their cases were really dismissed.

Last month, according to Jubran's emails, the issues continued with more citizens arrested in error because the clerk failed to update the system.

McCroskey says Jubran is in the wrong.

"I'm saying she hastily sent out emails before she did any research on it," said Knox County Criminal Clerk Joy McCroskey.

6 News reached out to Jubran for a comment, but so far has not received a response. The spokesperson for the DA's office says they have no comment.

Mayor Tim Burchett is also weighing in on the controversy surrounding Joy McCrosky's office. He said the first step is finding out who's responsible.

"My biggest concern is that someone's personal liberties are being taken away, and they're locked up, and I'm not sure if someone else is still locked up in our jails unbeknownst to the sheriff or the attorney general or McCrosky's office if they're supposed to or they're not supposed to be," said the mayor.

6 News also tried to contact Joy McCroskey after the meeting, but could not get a hold of her. 6 News has requested personnel files.

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