It is important for laws to be written as clearly as possible and applied as fairly as possible, not only so that justice will be done for individuals involved in particular cases but to promote public confidence in the administration of justice in our courts.
We believe that Hamilton County General Sessions Judge Bob Moon is a fine man who is conscientious in his duties and who certainly means well, but he has gotten himself into a regrettable predicament.
Three current complaints about Moon led the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary to issue him a public reprimand.
In a letter dated Jan. 3, Presiding Court of the Judiciary Judge Chris Craft stated that Moon had violated a rule calling on judges to "respect and comply with the law" and requiring them to "act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary."
In one case, Moon threatened to have a "reluctant victim/witness of a domestic assault" arrested if she did not testify in a way that Moon found truthful, the reprimand stated. Moon responded that witnesses must answer questions, barring improper questions or some privilege that permits them not to answer.
Another complaint involved whether a defendant was formally appointed an attorney and whether the charging document was proper. While the defendant did speak to an attorney in court, Moon acknowledged that "I failed to formally appoint an attorney for him and sign the order."
A third complaint involved a victim and two witnesses who gave testimony in Moon's court in 2008. The three, who were on judicial diversion from another court on theft charges, were not provided a hearing nor offered the opportunity for counsel before being arrested following their testimony.
Moon has said he will ensure appropriate treatment of witnesses.
Indeed, everyone involved in any court case should be diligent in the effort to assure justice and fair treatment.