published Friday, April 6th, 2012

Athens defense attorney Hank Hill pleads guilty to DUI

  • photo
    Hank Hill, a criminal defense attorney, was arrested on a driving impaired charge, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. Contributed photo

A longtime local defense attorney has pleaded guilty to driving under the influence.

Hank Hill, 63, entered the plea in open court in Athens, Tenn., Thursday, court records show.

“I have zealously defended the rights of the criminally accused for my entire career. I am dedicated to my family. For those accomplishments I am very proud,” Hill wrote in a statement released Thursday. “I have also committed the offense of driving under the influence. For that lapse of good judgment I apologize.”

Hill’s plea agreement states that he will pay a $465 fine along with more than $1,000 in court costs, said his attorney, Jerry Summers. He also will serve 48 hours in jail and 24 hours of pro bono service in General Sessions Court, Summers said.

Hill already has completed DUI school, his attorney said.

Signal Mountain police arrested Hill in April 2011 after an officer saw his truck in a ditch off a Signal Mountain road.

Because Hill is a local attorney, all Hamilton County judges and prosecutors with the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office recused themselves from the case.

The case was heard by Bradley County Criminal Court Judge Amy Armstrong Reedy and prosecuted by an assistant district attorney out of Maryville, Tenn.

Summers said the decision to enter the plea in Athens was based on the judge and prosecutor being based so far outside Hamilton County.

Summers said he had been preparing to go to trial for what he called a “very defendable” case when Hill decided he wanted to enter the guilty plea.

“Even if you want to try the case, the client is the one that makes the decision,” said Summers.

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