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Appeals court reinstates charges against former sheriff

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An appellate court has reinstated an indictment against a former Alabama sheriff, clearing the way for him to go to trial on campaign finance and ethics charges.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday reversed a judge’s decision dismissing an 11-count indictment against William Ray Norris, the former Clarke County sheriff. The court ruled that a judge erred in dismissing the charges based on Norris’ understanding that a state official promised he would not be prosecuted if he resigned from office.

Norris’ attorney has said the former sheriff had reached a verbal agreement with the attorney general’s office that Norris would not be prosecuted if he resigned.

The attorney general’s office disputed that characterization, but a circuit judge ruled Norris and his attorney “reasonably believed the agreement existed and that Norris had relied on that belief to his detriment by resigning as sheriff,” appellate judges wrote in the Friday opinion.

The appellate court ruled that the “mere belief that he had been granted immunity” was not sufficient to dismiss the case against Norris.

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