TBA Law Blog

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Posted by: Kate Prince on Feb 2, 2021

The Board of Judicial Conduct yesterday entered into a deferred discipline agreement with Stewart County Judicial Commissioner Joyce Tomlinson. The agreement says Tomlinson is alleged to have “injected herself into an active criminal case involving a family member and acted in a discourteous and intemperate manner inappropriate for a judicial officer.” Tomlinson is said to have “questioned and challenged” officers at the Stewart County Sheriff’s Department about a family member’s case. She was “sarcastic, argumentative, raised her voice, and banged her hands on the table,” and taunted the officer who had investigated her family member’s case, making it clear she did not believe his account of the case. Under the discipline agreement, Tomlinson will resign from her position no later than Feb. 14 and will not seek an appointed or elected judicial office in the future.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Dec 16, 2020

Lewis County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Michael Hinson received a public reprimand from the Board of Judicial Conduct yesterday. In a letter sent to Hinson, the board said he was being reprimanded for conducting judicial business “outside the parameters of the COVID-19 Judicial District Plan for the 21st Judicial District as approved by the Tennessee Supreme Court.” The board goes on to list the violations, including failing to limit the number of individuals in the courtroom and enforce social distancing requirements. The board also notes that Hinson made a disrespectful comment about Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeff Bivins. Judge Hinson acknowledged the problems, cooperated with the disciplinary counsel and accepted the reprimand.

Posted by: Kate Prince on Oct 6, 2020

Thirteenth Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Lee Young has been issued a public reprimand from the Board of Judicial Conduct. According to the reprimand, Young acknowledged to an investigative panel that he had sent inappropriate messages to various women on social media from 2015 to 2020. The messages were sent to a legal professional employed by a firm that conducted business in Young’s court and a litigant who previously had a child custody matter before Young and ranged from “flirtatious to overtly sexual.” Most of the messages depicted Young in his judicial robe. In addition to the reprimand, Young is suspended for 30 days, which will be held in abeyance if there are no meritorious complaints regarding ethical misconduct for the remainder of his current term. He must also refrain from using a picture of himself in judicial robes as his profile picture on any social media account, complete a judicial ethics program at his own expense and refrain from engaging in similar misconduct.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Oct 2, 2020

The Board of Judicial Conduct issued a public reprimand to Coffee County General Sessions Judge Jere Ledsinger on Sept. 28 after it found that he “made an inappropriate comment to a courtroom audience.” The board said that on or about July 16, Ledsinger addressed a group of criminal defendants, including some who were African-American, about the requirement to wear face masks in court, saying the “Grand Wizard of our Supreme Court said we have to wear these masks” or words to that effect. Ledsinger acknowledge he was wrong to make the statement and said he meant no disrespect to anyone. The board said the statement violated judicial conduct rules requiring judges to maintain the highest standards of conduct and dignity; avoid words or conduct that manifest bias or prejudice; be dignified and courteous to those they deal with; act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary; and avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

Posted by: Katharine Heriges on Nov 7, 2017

Jackson-based General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Christy R. Little received a public reprimand from the Board of Judicial Conduct last week. Little was reprimanded for “unexplained tardiness” on “a number of individual occasions, for significant periods of time.” According to a letter sent by the board, Little’s tardiness issues ceased late last year, once the judge learned of the complaints.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Oct 31, 2016

The Board of Judicial Conduct issued a public reprimand on Oct. 26 for Shelby County General Sessions Judge Bill Anderson Jr. after he intervened in the bond-setting process for an acquaintance. When Anderson discovered that an acquaintance had been arrested and placed in the Bartlett jail, he made several calls to the jail and then went there in person to inquire about the bond. While there, he discovered that bond had not yet been set. Citing his position, Anderson directed the jail employee to release the individual on his own recognizance. The employee declined to do so. Anderson later spoke with the Barlett judge, who had since set bond at $10,000. Anderson questioned the judge’s actions, claiming he had already released the individual. The board found that Anderson violated Canon 1, 2 and 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Aug 25, 2016

Nashville General Sessions Judge Rachel Bell has responded to a complaint filed with the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct, arguing that allegations she was late to court, took too long a break or favored one side over another during a case in April are unfounded. The response, which also called on the board to dismiss the complaint, came in a five-page letter from Bell’s lawyer, Charles Grant of Baker Donelson. The Tennessean says it obtained a copy of the letter Tuesday.

Posted by: Brittany Sims on Jul 17, 2015

The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct has cleared Nashville General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland of allegations brought by fellow Judge Melissa Blackburn earlier this year. In an email to other judges in November, Blackburn describes Moreland as bullying women and throwing mattresses and papers in the mental health court offices. In a letter obtained by The Tennessean, the board wrote that it was the unanimous decision of the investigative panel that the “factual allegations in the complaint, which would have given rise to a potential violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, did not occur.”

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Oct 23, 2014

The Board of Judicial Conduct issued a public reprimand to Davidson County General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland yesterday for his activities in connection with a domestic violence case. According to the board, Moreland contacted a judicial commissioner and informed him that a 12-hour hold on a domestic violence suspect should not be imposed because the relationship between the victim and the suspect was not domestic in nature. Moreland later admitted that the information, received from an attorney who is a social friend, was not correct. The board determined that Moreland violated three Judicial Canons and one law governing judicial conduct. It also reported that Moreland was fully cooperative with the investigation, candid in explaining the situation and open about admitting he made a mistake.

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Oct 6, 2014

Shelby County General Sessions Judge John Donald has been censured by the Board of Judicial Conduct (BJC) for retaliating against an attorney who filed a complaint against him, the Memphis Daily News reports. The BJC ruled last Thursday that Donald violated judicial ethics when he filed a complaint with the Board of Professional Responsibility against attorney David Gold and one of Gold’s witnesses, also an attorney. The filing came after Gold lodged a complaint with the BJC that Donald refused to hear his arguments and notify him of a future hearing date.

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