Polk County Grady Judd is no stranger to the national spotlight, but his decision Tuesday to name and show two underage girls under arrest was over the top, some critics say.
The girls are 12 and 14 years old. They were arrested Monday night in connection with the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick.
Sedwick killed herself after relentless bullying, her family and authorities said.
That bullying was spearheaded by the two girls under arrest.
(FOX 13 generally does not name juveniles under arrest.)
When Judd announced their arrests, he named them and showed their photos.
That's when some say he went beyond his duties.
Tampa defense attorney Jeff Brown says Polk Sheriff Grady Judd is just that -- a sheriff.
"He is just a sheriff. He is not a judge, he's not a lawyer, he is not the state attorney's office, he's not representing these girls. So he is doing an awful lot of pre-judging, he's bringing a lot of his side of the facts out there, and maybe these are the facts. But I don't understand why he can't let the system play out, why he can't let the people who are the lawyers -- not the sheriff -- investigate the case, look into what's going on here, and then have a judge decide what the appropriate penalty or sentence is, and see about the proper way to handle this in a courtroom."
Brown said it seems that Judd wants to skip the court system.
"If find that very odd from someone who is sworn to uphold the law. He seems to just ignore skip the rest of the system and the court and try to do it all himself," Brown said.
He added that we should not judge the two girls too quickly.
"Let's let the system play out. There may be an appropriate time to make them the example of what went on. But now is not the time. Now is the time to find out what went on, and let the professionals, not Sheriff Judd, look into this."
In the meantime, the parents of the girls emerged Wednesday with stories that countered Judd's narrative.
The 14-year-old's parents said her Facebook had been hacked; her mother told ABC News she checked her daughter's Facebook everytime she used it.
The 12-year-old's father said she is a top-notch student and not the monster that she seems to be in the media.
While the facts and stories are sorted out, Brown says it was inappropriate to name the girls.
"He followed the law. But I just don't think that was appropriate. I would hope he would have more restraint and let the system work, and not try to do all branches of the system. He's just the sheriff," Brown said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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