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The Georgia Court of Appeals has ruled that the family of the county court reporter killed in the March 11, 2005, courthouse shootings may sue the Fulton County sheriff for negligence.

In a nine-page opinion released Thursday, the three-judge appellate panel overturned a lower court finding that Fulton County Sheriff Myron E. Freeman is a county employee. Instead, he is “an elected constitutional county officer,” the appellate panel found, noting that Georgia’s Constitution “has made the sheriff independent from the county, notwithstanding the sheriff’s designation as a county officer.”

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