Hamilton County Commission deadlocked 4-4 today while voting who should be chief magistrate. Then they deferred the vote to next week when Commissioner Tim Boyd will be present.
Four commissioners supported current magistrate Randall Russell for the chief's post. The deadlocked vote came after four individuals made the cut for four open magistrate positions.
Four others, including Chairman Larry Henry, supported current chief magistrate Larry Ables, who is in his third term as chief. Ables is Henry's wife's nephew, a relationship Henry publicly disclosed before magistrate votes during previous years. He did not mention that relationship Wednesday.
County Attorney Rheubin Taylor previously advised Henry that the county ethics code did not require him to recuse himself from a vote on Ables. Henry voluntarily recused himself from the vote in years past.
Commissioners oversee the magistrates, formally known as judicial commissioners, who set bonds and issue warrants to alleviate jail crowding and aid General Sessions judges.
The initial appointment of magistrates required two rounds of votes. Two lawyers, Sharretta Smith and Russell, garnered enough votes in the first ballot to be appointed. Remaining candidates failed to get the necessary five votes.
Henry called a second ballot for the remaining two slots. In that vote, former magistrate Bob Davis received six votes and Ables received five, including Henry's. The next highest vote-getter, Jeffrey Davis, received four votes.
Read more in tomorrow's Times Free Press.