Former Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Joe Brown, who is the Democratic nominee for District Attorney General in the August county general elections, was arrested and jailed Monday, March 24, for being in contempt of court.
The arrest came in Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court as Brown was appearing before court Magistrate Harold Horne.
Horne cited Brown for contempt of court after he said Brown began complaining about delays in court matters and refused to stop complaining. Horne ordered Brown jailed for five days.
Brown was in court to represent a client on child support arrangements.
A 50-second audio clip of the court confrontation posted on the Facebook page of the celebrity news television program TMZ begins with Brown telling Horne, “I’ll have you charged with violating the process.”
“Now, you want to get into it, let’s get into it. This sorry operation needs to stop,” Brown added.
“Twenty-four hours Shelby County Jail for contempt,” Horne replied.
“Excuse me, you need to straighten yourself up,” Brown then said.
“Do you wish to have a second day?” Horne asked.
“A second day? I’ll tell you what, you cite the authority. You find it. I looked it up before I came in here. You have $10 maximum contempt jurisdiction.”
Horne then added a second day and the encounter ended with five days in jail.
But Brown was released on his own recognizance Monday evening after several hours at the Criminal Justice Center jail.
“Anyone who comes before the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County will be treated fairly, with dignity and with respect,” Juvenile Court Judge Curtis Person Jr. said Monday evening in a written statement. “Anyone who acts in a contemptuous manner toward this court, toward any member of this court, toward any employee of this court or toward any visitor of this court will be dealt with appropriately according to the laws of the state of Tennessee.”
While Brown is challenging Republican incumbent District Attorney General Amy Weirich in the August elections, his candidacy so far has included just as much time criticizing Juvenile Court as it has the prosecutor’s office.
In numerous speeches this campaign season, Brown has frequently talked about his challenges of the late Juvenile Court Judge Kenneth Turner as an attorney representing clients in Juvenile Court. He’s also told audiences that at one point he made Turner cry during a confrontation over court procedures in the 1970s.
As a Criminal Court Judge in the 1990s, Brown and Turner tangled judge on judge with Turner complaining to the state Court of the Judiciary and Brown later saying he meant no disrespect but not backing down from his criticism.
Brown has also emerged as a leader of local Democratic party efforts to take some countywide offices in the 2014 elections after losing every countywide office in the 2010 elections. Most of the offices the Democrats are making a priority are posts in the local criminal justice system.
With his celebrity appeal from his run on the nation’s second most popular syndicated judge’s program, Brown has attracted a lot of attention as Democrats wait for the May primaries to decide who their nominee for Shelby County Mayor will be.
Brown’s campaign posted word of the contempt arrest Monday afternoon on the campaign Facebook page comparing his jailing to that in the 1960s of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Supporters of Weirich also noted the incident in Twitter and Facebook posts separate from her campaign Facebook page without comparisons to King.