Former Dundy County Sheriff challenges recall election results, seeks reinstatement in federal court

Nov. 17, 2023, 4 p.m. ·

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Clinton Smith (center) attends the hearing of the Police Standards Council, with his attorney Emeka Igbokwe. (Photo: Fred Knapp/Nebraska Public Media)

Clinton Smith, the Dundy County Sheriff voted out of office in a recall election on Tuesday, asked a federal court judge in Nebraska to throw out the election results and allow him to stay in his position.

In his complaint filed with the court, Smith claims his constitutional rights were violated when he failed to get certified as a law enforcement officer and when residents voted to remove him from office.

The state’s law enforcement training academy refused to provide Smith certification in Nebraska after the discovered he had falsely claimed he had up-to-date authorization to be a police officer in Colorado and failed to report he’d been investigated for professional misbehavior, including sexual harassment. Smith had also failed to meet the physical requirements to enter training.

Although the Dundy County Board of Supervisors voted to withhold his salary after the revelations, Smith continued to work, presenting himself as a ‘constitutional sheriff.’ He claimed he was being targeted for the recall because of his support for gun rights.

In Tuesday’s recall election, 91 percent of the residents in Dundy County voted to remove Smith from office.

In motions filed in Federal District Court on Wednesday, Smith claims the county should not have proceeded with the recall election because it was based on false allegations made by his opponents.

Serving has his own attorney, Smith wrote in his motion the process “has caused irreparable and humiliating damages to the plaintiff through the removal of an elected official without just cause.”

The State of Nebraska is also named in the suit. Smith alleges he was not given adequate opportunity to get certified and insufficient opportunity to appeal the denial of his certification. State law provides eight months for an uncertified sheriff to go through the process following an election.

County officials have not yet been served with papers in the lawsuit and have not yet responded to Smith’s accusations.

On Wednesday, the Dundy County Board appointed an interim sheriff. Smith voluntarily turned over his badge, uniform and weapon. He has not been paid by the county since September.