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Tulsa County Sheriff Looking at Outside Counsel for Hijab Lawsuit

Tulsa Sheriff's Office

The Tulsa County Sheriff is on track to hire outside counsel as it fights a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Suha Elqutt accuses deputies of making her remove her hijab in public in order to enter the courthouse in April. Sheriff Vic Regalado said the issues in the case are outside the purview of the district attorney’s office.

"Oftentimes, depending on the complexity of the case, there’s a mutual agreement between the district attorney’s office and the sheriff’s office to hire outside counsel on several different cases," Regalado said.

First Amendment issues in the religious discrimination lawsuit are the main concern.

"Oftentimes, those can become somewhat murky, and you need somebody who has experience and a certain level of expertise when you talk about these type of civil rights cases," Regalado said.

Regalado expects county commissioners will approve an agreement with Hall, Estill, Hardwick, Gable, Golden and Nelson through May 2019. Keith Wilkes would be the lead attorney, and hourly rates quoted to the sheriff's office range from $100 for paralegals to $200 for associate attorneys. Wilkes or other partners' services were quoted at $225 per hour.