Updated 10:50 a.m.
Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels is going through a very public divorce after he was caught having an affair with an employee more than half his age. His wife Denise filed for divorce last week in Duval county.
At the age of 48, Sheriff Daniels started a six-year affair with Cierra Smith who was 21 at the time, and an employee he supervised at the jail. Daniels is now under investigation for various reasons, including accusations that he had sex with Smith inside his office.
Facts came to light when Smith’s husband told internal affairs about the affair and now this has become a complicated legal entanglement to say the least.
For one, Smith was recommended terminated from her job and she did not appeal the decision. Smith was accused of felony stalking by Daniels and she was arrested, but ultimately not charged.
Per an interview of Smith, she argues she was “set up” as even Denise was present when this occurred. Why would Denise be there?
Smith also stated in her interview that Denise was cursing at her and since she had her six-year old child in the car with her, there could even be a lawsuit filed on the child’s behalf, especially seeking damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress as the child no doubt was traumatized by all this.
Because Smith claims to have been detained for several hours, she can file suit for violation of her civil rights, including but not limited to false imprisonment against Daniels, Denise, and the deputies that were involved. A sexual harassment claim is also possible.
If Smith gets a substantial judgment against Daniels and Denise, they no doubt will file for bankruptcy.
In addition, Smith is currently pregnant, assuming it is by Daniels, he now faces a child support case.
Daniels himself could be facing resignation, if not, will he actually run for re-election? Because this also affects his case financially speaking.
For example, if Daniels resigns, he will be earning less income and it could be argued that he should pay child support and alimony based on his current income. Why? Because the reduction in income was caused by voluntary acts.
Unlike a typical child support modification case, if the father quits his job or is fired, he is not going to qualify for downward modification of child support because the loss of income was done voluntarily, if not on purpose, unlike being laid off which is beyond one’s control.
But in Sheriff Daniels’ case, his act of having an affair was voluntarily and obviously his acts could lead to termination or resignation.
If I were Daniels’ lawyer, I would advise him to run for re-election. At least there is the appearance of him trying to keep the status quo and there still is the chance he wins. Even then, I still believe his wife has an argument against a reduction of alimony payments, unless it could be proven somehow he was going to retire before all this happened.
Denise no doubt is entitled to half of all assets including his pension and permanent alimony.
But more importantly, since this was a six year affair and reports are that Daniels gave Smith money, there is an argument for dissipation of marital assets and Denise can seek a credit for monies spent on Smith.
Now, I’ve faced this situation before, but this isn’t as simple as it sounds.
For example, there is always money spent on an affair, but how much and can it be proved? Trying to get credit for dinners, etc… is a waste of time, but in my case, it was black and white.
The husband had purchased a home for his mistress and had paid off the mortgage in a long-time affair that lasted more than twenty years. Legally, half of that home belonged to my client.
Based on the facts provided by Smith in her interview where there are text messages between Sheriff Daniels and her to meet up, and as stated before that Denise was also present, both Denise and Sheriff Daniels could also be charged with filing a false police report which is a felony.
That, in addition to a restraining order for threats against Smith by Denise. Action News Jax did obtain an audio recording of that confrontation from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
Remember, if there is a lawsuit by Smith, the county could ultimately be on the hook financially.
Alexander Hernandez represents clients in the areas of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Family Law/Divorce, and car and motorcycle accidents.
(904) 712-5565 or (305)-688-LAWS (5297).