What happens if Harwell is indicted?

Has Hooker Finally Hooked Something?

Ever since the curious turn of events regarding the decision of a recent grand jury to not indict Speakers Ron Ramsey and Beth Harwell, there has been speculation on what happens next.

The controversy stemmed from their alleged violation of state law regarding the appointment of members to the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission. John Jay Hooker (the Patron Saint of Failed Legal Filings), on his umpteenth Don Quixote legal quest, apparently had finally found a legal challenge of some merit.

Despite claiming they had more than sufficient evidence, the grand jury did not indict. Only after the jury was dissolved did members come forward to say they did not realize that they, as a jury could indict. If they had known that, they said, they would have done so.

Case close, right? Not so fast.

RTP has learned that a new grand jury has been impaneled and that the foreman of that grand jury has been briefed on the findings of the previous jury. The speculation is the new grand jury will indict one or both Speakers. We’ll see.

But the threat of an indictment has raised questions among many, especially many state legislators, as to what an indictment of a sitting Speaker would mean. That is especially true as it regards Speaker Harwell. Harwell set a precedent in the Curry Todd case that she may have to adhere to when it comes to her own position. Harwell forced Todd to resign his chairmanship after he was merely arrested for drinking & driving & packing a gun and before his case was adjudicated.

It would be reasonable to expect the same standards would be applied to Harwell if she was indicted in connection to the JPEC appointments, especially since it involved her official duties as speaker. If Harwell is indicted before the leadership elections in December, it would be difficult to convince members of the GOP caucus that she could continue as Speaker and not be distracted from he job, not to mention the embarrassment of having a Speaker go on trial while sitting in office.

If Harwell’s indictment comes after the leadership elections, it is hard to see how she could continue in that office without at least taking a “leave of absence” from her duties as speaker. In that case, her duties would likely fall to Speaker Pro-Tem Curtis Johnson of Clarksville.

Oh, my, John Jay. What hath you wrought?

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