Smith County Clerk found guilty of interfering in traffic stop, son’s arrest

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Smith County Clerk Karen Phillips was found guilty of misdemeanor interfering with public duties after a March 2023 traffic stop that led to the arrest of her son, his friend and herself.

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Her jury trial started on Wednesday, and Phillips sentencing has been set for June 14. Her son, Derek Phillips, 37, was sentenced to 30 days in the Smith County Jail for the same offense in March.

Both were arrested in March 2023 after authorities said they tried to interfere in a traffic stop involving Derek’s friend who was also arrested that night. They each sued Smith County alleging violations of their Constitutional rights relating to the incident, and Karen Phillips lawsuit was paused pending her criminal case.

Bodycam footage of the incident was released by authorities and showed a long dispute before the arrests. They were indicted for interfering with public duties in November.

Karen Phillips trial was originally set for March 20, but was delayed until May, and the court did not allow cameras into the courtroom for the trial.

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