Lawyers for Erie County say they plan to appeal a judge's decision that places an extra layer of oversight on Sheriff Timothy B. Howard and his jail staff.
The decision lets four county citizens seek a court order telling the sheriff and his staff to accurately report serious incidents to a state watchdog agency in Albany, or be cited for contempt of court if they fail to do so.
The four, former members of the county's now dormant Community Corrections Advisory Board, are following the path taken by the state Commission of Correction. The state agency last year found that Howard's officials had been calling inmate suicide attempts "inmate disturbances" and misreporting other serious events.
The commission told Howard to start following state rules or face a court order that he do so. In response, Howard's top jail official said his division would comply. But Howard then made conflicting public statements that persuaded the four to go to court. They are: the Rev. Eugene L. Pierce, Nan L. Haynes, Karima Amin and Charles Culhane.
Jeremy Toth of the Erie County Attorney's Office had argued before State Supreme Court Justice Mark A. Montour that the case should be dismissed because the four lack the legal standing to play the role of a state agency. But Montour, in an order signed days ago, said the citizens do have legal standing and kept the case alive.
Toth said Thursday the County Attorney's Office intends to appeal.