ROGERSVILLE - Former Hawkins County Judge James F. Taylor pled
guilty Friday to stealing from Hawkins County clients in his private practice, as well as
misuse of contributions he gathered for the purpose of installing a historical documents display in
the new Justice Center that included the Ten Commandments.
His plea comes in connection with
a plea entered in Davidson County on Sept. 20 to charges of theft from the Administrative Office of
the Courts (AOC) by forging documents to support false billings for legal work he did not perform.
In Hawkins County, he received two three-year sentences, which will run concurrently and
require him to serve one year in jail, and the remaining two years on probation. This sentence will
run consecutively with the sentence that he received in Davidson County for which Taylor will serve
three years. As a result of the plea, Taylor's effective sentence for his crimes in Davidson and
Hawkins Counties requires him to serve four years.
In addition, Taylor will also serve a
total of 12 years of supervised probation and must pay $71,783 to his Hawkins County victims in
addition to $32,757 he owes AOC for a total of $104,540. Taylor was indicted on 41 counts of theft
from the AOC earlier this year. He has also agreed he will not seek reinstatement of his law license
until his probation ends in 2028.
The charges follow a joint investigation by the Tennessee
Attorney General's Office and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) in addition to work by the
Hawkins County and Davidson County District Attorneys.
"Tennesseans should have trust in
their judicial system," Attorney General Bob Cooper said in a media release. "We intend to hold
fully responsible any member of the legal profession who would steal funds from clients in addition
to stealing from public funds intended for those who cannot afford a lawyer."
Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn added in the release, "When an individual in a
position of authority takes advantage of someone who trusts them, they should be held accountable
for their actions. Corruption and misconduct have no place in Tennessee's judicial process. I am
hopeful that the victims of this case receive the restitution ordered and feel justice has been
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