Wednesday, May 16, 2018
A Tennessee General Sessions Court Judge has been reprimanded for dismissing a DUI to "do a veteran a favor," dismissing a courtroom full of cases en masse without hearing evidence to clear the overcrowded room and stopping by the roadside to interfere with a seatbelt violation citation (which he later dismissed ex parte)
General Sessions Judge Mike Hinson doesn't deny he has a liberal dismissal police when it comes to THP-issued citations.
In a recent interview, the judge said, "So we are being over-enforced. The THP come into a city to get their numbers."
Last May, a trooper pulled over a motorcycle rider who was allegedly going 78 in a 55 mph zone. The motorcyclist was ultimately arrested and charged with DUI.
According to the TBI, the man's blood alcohol was .122, which is well above the legal limit of .008.
But when the DUI suspect came before Judge Hinson, the case was dismissed.
By phone, Hinson, who refused to go on-camera regarding the dismissed DUI case, told News 2 he was simply trying to do a veteran a favor.
In a statement, he said, "To my knowledge, the blood alcohol levels you are citing were not available to me on the September court date."
According to the TBI, the results were available several months before and the official alcohol report was completed by the end of June 2017.
News 2 spoke to District Attorney Kim Helper, who said she could not comment on whether the citation was independently submitted to the grand jury.
She added her office was not involved in the original decision to dismiss it.
According to court documents, last year troopers wrote nearly 2,000 citations in Lewis County.
"They come over, as the troopers say, 'It's like writing fish in a barrel,'" Hinson said.
Of the nearly 2,000 citations given, Judge Hinson dismissed half of them.
Lt. Bill Miller told News 2 Hinson's liberal dismissal policy of THP tickets sends motorists the wrong message.
"It is clear that self-interest was placed ahead of the community interest and by doing that placed the community at risk," Miller said. "When you dismiss a .122 DUI, it clearly undermines what the THP is trying to do and that is to increase public safety."
Judge Hinson admitted he has dismissed an entire courtroom full of citations only once before and he said he did that for courtroom security when 12 troopers wrote so many citations that 300 people showed up for a court capable of holding 117 people.
The judge also told News 2, "Last week's story was not about me, nor individual state troopers - it was about a THP policy which I feel is discriminatory, wasteful and results in over-enforcement of small cities and rural counties."
Hinson continued, "The THP disagrees. I call upon the General Assembly to investigate this police and determine who is correct. If the THP is not going to over-enforce in downtown Franklin, then they shouldn't over-enforce in Hohenwald, Linden or any other small or rural area."