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Judge Taylor agrees to public reprimand

Published: 11:42 PM, 06/06/2011 Last updated: 3:53 PM, 06/09/2011

Source: The Rogersville Review

By Bill Grubb
News Editor

NASHVILLE - Hawkins County Juvenile Judge James Taylor has agreed to a public reprimand for his part in organizing an effort to display various documents, including The 10 Commandments, at the Hawkins County Justice Center.
    Taylor, who is also a practicing attorney, was named in a four-charge, 13 page document signed by Timothy Discenza, Disciplinary Counsel of the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary, and filed March 29, 2011, in Nashville.  The charges were the result of an investigation by a three-member panel into complaints concerning the judge. 
    The Agreed Order resolving the complaint was filed June 6 and agreed to by a majority of the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary Hearing Panel.  A public disciplinary action, such as a public reprimand is a letter that details the finding of judicial misconduct and lists reasons why such conduct is improper and a discredit to the judiciary.  It does not affect Taylor's ability to practice law or sit on the bench.
    Although not a part of the formal agenda, Taylor admitted that he "made an appearance before the County Commission of Hawkins County, speaking before that legislative body at their request, in connection with the deliberation of that legislative body to grant approval to have a Citizens Heritage Display displayed in the courtroom lobby of the Justice Center of Hawkins County," the agreed order resolving the complaint states.
    This action was described as a violation of Canon 4C(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, as set forth in Rule 10 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, the order states.
    The judge also admitted "that he became involved in the collection of funds for the construction of said display, making it publicly known that he would be collecting funds for said display at his private law office," according to the agreement.
    This action was described as a violation of Canon 4C(3)(b)(i) and (iv) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, as set forth in Rule 10 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, the order states.
    A count alleging Taylor was cited for contempt while practicing law was retired and will be completely dismissed if Taylor is not disciplined or cited for contempt during the next year.
    A pair of additional counts dealing with Taylor's failure to answer the complaints was dismissed.
    Taylor was elected in May 2006 for an eight year term, defeating opponent Gerald Eidson in the Republican Primary after then Judge Herb Holcomb sought another office.
    Under the provisions of a private act creating the position, the juvenile judge shall serve on a part-time basis as necessary, but shall hold court at least two days per week.  The judge is allowed to participate in the practice of law in all other courts within the court systems. The juvenile court judge makes an annual salary of $58,398.

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