Attorney accused of judge shopping

Attorney accused of judge shopping

April 20th, 2010 by Monica Mercer in News

Staff photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press Jacob Ryan Young, a 19-year-old member of the University of Tennessee wrestling team, leaves the bench after a preliminary hearing in Judge Bob Moon's General Sessions courtroom on Monday.

Staff photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press Jacob...

An ongoing dispute between a local judge and a defense attorney over allegations of "judge shopping" has resulted in a UTC athlete receiving publicity he was trying to avoid.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestler Jacob Ryan Young just wanted to keep his mug shot out of a local weekly publication that runs jail booking photos after being issued a misdemeanor citation on April 4 for drinking under age and carrying a marijuana pipe.

Mr. Young had that option, because it is common procedure for a Hamilton County General Sessions Court judge to waive the jail booking photo of a person who is not arrested and only issued a citation for misdemeanor offenses.

But last Friday, when Mr. Young's defense attorney, Jerry Summers, inquired if Judge Clarence Shattuck could waive the jail booking photo, an editorial on a local Web site accused Mr. Summers of "judge shopping" because Judge Bob Moon already had been assigned to the case.

The editorial was written by Chattanooga resident Lee Tripp, chairman of the local Court Watch Partners group, which bills itself as a watchdog organization dedicated to ensuring proper courtroom procedure is followed.

The editorial stated that Mr. Summers' supposed actions, much of which unfolded during conversations with a court clerk, were "ironic" given the fact Mr. Summers still is embroiled in litigation that accuses Judge Moon of being involved in judge shopping.

Mr. Summers claims Judge Moon for years has facilitated the practice by allowing officers with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to pick specifically Judge Moon to hear the agency's cases.

Mr. Tripp denied being provided details of Mr. Summers' supposed actions by Judge Moon, who Court Watch Partners named "judge of the year" in 2008. Judge Moon is the group's "judicial liaison," Mr. Tripp said, but never talks about specific cases.

On Monday during a special hearing to sort out what happened in Mr. Young's case, Judge Moon waived the jail booking photo.

But he said Mr. Summers made "misdirected efforts" to have the booking photo "waived by a judge who never was assigned to this case and never should have been contacted."

Mr. Young, 19, since has been dismissed from the UTC wrestling team, coach Heath Eslinger said Monday.

Mr. Summers, before and after the hearing, took issue with any allegations that he was trying to "judge shop," calling it all a "huge misunderstanding."

"I have never judge shopped in my life," Mr. Summers said.

According to Mr. Summers, he was unaware last Friday that Mr. Young's case had been assigned to Judge Moon.

Judge Shattuck at the time was presiding over Division Four of General Sessions Court, the default court to resolve issues when a case has not yet been assigned a particular judge.

Mr. Summers said he immediately set the case for a hearing on July 7 in front of Judge Moon once Judge Shattuck's court clerk told him Judge Moon was the judge of record.

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