published Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Tennessee: Court of Criminal Appeals to hear judge-shopping case


by Monica Mercer

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals has agreed to hear a case regarding allegations of judge shopping in Hamilton County General Sessions Court.

The higher court’s willingness to hear the case before it is resolved at the local level — called an “interlocutory appeal” — is rare, legal experts say, but it is not yet clear whether the high court’s decision indicates whether or not the case has merit.

Defense attorney Jerry Summers is trying to get boating under the influence charges dropped against his client because of evidence showing that the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has routinely cherrypicked which judges hear its cases.

While local special Criminal Court Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood ruled in January that systematic judge shopping has indeed occurred, he stopped short of dismissing the case outright, ruling that a different general sessions judge could correct any perceived violations of due process.

Mr. Summers wants the appeals court to make the final call, and today’s decision means it most likely will.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.

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