Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Tennessee Disciplinary Counsel has filed misconduct charges against a general sessions court judge. The charges allege that the judge had referred litigants to a private probation service pursuant to a Supreme Court rule that forbids referrals based on nepotism and favoritism. The person who had incorporated the private probation service was married to the judge's spouse's sister. The charges contend that the judge created an "artificial barrier for his continued utilization [of the probation service] as the exclusive probation provider for [his court]" by vesting authority for selecting the service to the county mayor. The judge's relative receives compensation, sits next to the judge during court sessions and is "known by the general public [to have] a familial relationship to [the judge]." The judge also is alleged to have (1) threatened contempt to a defendant who repeated remarks that his "[p]robation was crooked [and the judge] was crooked" and (2) accepted but did not disclose a $100 payment for speaking at a church.
The judge's answer to the charges is linked here. The answer contends that the judge and the probation services provider are "not related" as they have only non-blood ties through two separate marriages.