A state court in Florence will hear initial arguments today, Jan. 6, in the impeachment of the current Coroner of Lauderdale County, George “Butch” Tucker. 

Tucker faces removal from office after Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly’s office received multiple complaints alleging delays in the issuing of death certificates, delays in sending blood samples for analysis (seven months in one matter), and sometimes not sending samples at all.

At the hearing, Tucker will have the opportunity to make his initial response to the charges and request a jury trial.

Tucker was elected coroner in 2018 and worked as a deputy coroner prior to that. He has been accused of at least 11 different instances in which he failed to do his job.

In addition to the potential trauma this can cause grieving families, often criminal and civil investigations are contingent on the coroner’s findings. Further, many insurance policies require documentation from a coroner before benefits are disbursed.

Under Alabama state law, impeachment trials can be given priority and heard more quickly than standard hearings, to prevent continued abuse of power. However, the same section provides Tucker with the option of a jury trial.

Coroners are elected to four-year terms. To be eligible to serve as a coroner in Alabama, state law requires the candidate “Has successfully completed the next scheduled training course no longer than 180 days after his or her election or appointment, unless an affidavit affirms that the requirement of this subdivision has been met at the time of qualifying for the office.”

Hearings in Tucker’s trial begin at 9 a.m. Tucker is considered innocent until proven guilty.