Jacksonville City Council President Sam Newby refused to accept a memo from the city’s General Counsel on whether Sheriff Mike Williams had violated the charter by moving out of Duval County.
But a draft version of the memo obtained by Florida Politics suggests the city’s lead lawyer would have declared the office vacant because Williams contravened the charter residency requirement.
“For the above-stated reasons, I hereby determine that the office of Jacksonville Sheriff is hereby deemed to be vacant in accordance with section 8.03 of the Jacksonville Charter as of 2:00 P.M. on June 2, 2022. Any actions taken and compensation received by the Sheriff between such time as he removed his residence outside of Duval County and the effective date and time of this vacancy determination are valid actions and compensation of the Jacksonville Sheriff by virtue of his de facto status in that office.”
In other words, the memo does not recommend a clawback of Williams’ salary and benefits while he lived in Nassau County, but would recommend immediate vacancy ahead of Williams’ announced retirement, slated for June 10.
The charter says that if “the Sheriff should die, resign, or remove his residence from Duval County during his term of office, or be removed from office, the office of sheriff shall become vacant.” Williams moved his home out of the county, bringing the question into play.
“Section 8.03 clearly establishes that a vacancy is created under three scenario death, resignation and removal of residence from Duval County during the term of office. This language is clear and unambiguous and therefore not subject to interpretation. All three scenarios by their very nature and legal definitions, are irrevocable,” Teal writes.
City Council President Sam Newby solicited an opinion by Thursday from General Counsel Jason Teal on whether Williams effectively vacated the office.
Newby rescinded the request for opinion, but that opinion is now on the record, and it suggests Williams is serving longer than the city’s lead lawyer would recommend.