published Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Chattanooga: TWRA 'judge shopping' case going to Court of Appeals

by Monica Mercer

A special Hamilton County judge has granted permission for an attorney to take his arguments straight to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals in a case involving allegations that the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has engaged in “judge shopping” over the years.

Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood ruled on Jan. 7 that the TWRA does indeed shop around for judges in Hamilton County when seeking to prosecute its cases in General Sessions Court.

He stopped short, however, of granting defense attorney Jerry Summers’ motion to dismiss outright the case against Gary Wayne McCullough, who was arrested by the TWRA for boating under the influence.

Judge Blackwood instead sent the case back to General Sessions Court to be retried in front of a different judge.

But today, Judge Blackwood agreed with Mr. Summers’ arguments that Mr. McCullough’s case should be appealed in front of the Court of Criminal Appeals “in the interest of justice” even though it has not yet been resolved at the trial level.

Defendants normally are not allowed to go to the Court of Criminal Appeals unless all other avenues at the trial level have been exhausted.

See tomorrow’s Times Free Press for complete details.

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