Democratic Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway reversed course on a plan to stop arresting some drug suspects, after the state attorney general cast doubt on the legality of the policy. The sheriff's office says it has asked deputies to turn in the unused summons forms. Pettway's spokesman announced the "Big Ticket" initiative last week. The sheriff has not spoken publicly about the proposal. The plan -- endorsed by the county's two Democratic district attorneys -- entailed giving summonses to people charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession. The sheriff's office said that would free up deputies to focus on bigger crimes. But state Attorney General Steve Marshall said the plan may not be legal, and indicated his office was researching whether the plan complied with the rules of criminal procedure and judicial administration. It's the second recent clash between Marshall and Pettway. Marshall last month publicly criticized Pettway after the sheriff, through a spokesman, announced that his office had no intention of enforcing the state law against gambling. It was later revealed that Pettway's brother, Bruce, had obtained a business license for a massive electronic bingo hall in Graysville. Bruce Pettway backed out of the plan, amid growing scrutiny.
Photo: Sheriff Mark Pettway