Paul Summers, a former Tennessee attorney general and appellate judge, has been named to lead the investigation into allegations of misconduct in the 10th Judicial District.
Wally Kirby, executive director of the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, said he asked Summers on Monday to serve as attorney general pro tem after 10th Judicial District Attorney Steve Bebb requested one.
The investigation will examine information from a six-day series in the Chattanooga Times Free Press that alleged financial and professional misconduct by 10th District prosecutors; unchecked spending by the former chief of the district's drug task force; and questionable procedures that allowed motorists' cars and cash to be seized without their being charged with crimes.
Bebb has denied misconduct in his office, but he released a statement Monday asking for a pro tem to "investigate any allegations of impropriety in this office, either by myself or any employee."
On Monday, Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper's office also announced a joint investigation with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the state Comptroller's Office.
Kirby said Summers also will head that probe.
"I spoke with General Summers yesterday afternoon and he agreed to accept the appointment," Kirby said in an email.
"He is the District Attorney pro-tem to handle this matter to its conclusion. There will be no parallel investigation. TBI will handle the investigation and they can get any information from the auditors that they may need. At the conclusion of the investigation General Summers, the pro-tem DA, will review the investigation to determine what if any action he should take," Kirby wrote.
Summers could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Asked for comment, state attorney general spokeswoman Sharon Curtis-Flair said in an email, "We will cooperate with anyone authorized by law to participate in the investigation."
According to information on his website, Summers is a retired U.S. Army colonel with 30 years' active and reserve service in the Office of the Judge Advocate General. He served as 25th District attorney general from 1982-1990 before joining the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. The state Supreme Court appointed him state attorney general in 1999 and he served in that position until 2006.
Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...