Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper has opted to hire an attorney rather than use the county’s counsel.
Brian Hansford of the Cumming firm Miles, Patterson, Hansford and Tallant will begin as the agency’s counsel effective Friday.
The previous administration, under three-term Sheriff Ted Paxton, employed County Attorney Ken Jarrard and his firm, which represents the county commission, departments and various boards.
Paxton lost his bid for a fourth term in the August Republican primary runoff to Piper, who took office Jan. 1.
Piper said he feels Hansford will be “very valuable” in assisting him in protecting the county’s residents and their constitutional rights.
“I’ll be getting legal advice on decisions that I have to make as sheriff from an attorney I’ve known for years who was a former prosecutor,” he said. “I have the utmost confidence in his skill and ability.”
Piper campaigned on plans to reduce expenses and said the switch will be “budget neutral.”
“We haven’t discussed a specific hourly rate at this point, but he knows very well that we won’t be doing anything that will increase my budget,” Piper said.
Hansford, whose firm handles primarily criminal defense cases, could not be reached for comment late last week.
Though Piper will be employing separate counsel from the county, he said he couldn’t “imagine any legal action” he’d need to take against the commission or other county entities.
He was unsure how often the agency has needed to use counsel in the past.
Jarrard has represented the sheriff’s office and the county during the past three terms, but the two aren’t required to have the same attorney.
“The sheriff is a separate constitutional officer and has the right to retain counsel of his own,” Jarrard said.
He added that his firm will continue representing the sheriff’s office in cases covered by the county’s insurance from Association County Commissioners Georgia. That includes most pending litigation.
Jarrard’s firm charges $175 per hour in attorney’s fees.