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VOL. 129 | NO. 86 | Friday, May 02, 2014

Brown Contempt Case Goes to Appeals Court

By Bill Dries

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Special Criminal Court Judge Paul Summers on Friday, May 2, sent the Juvenile Court contempt citation against former Criminal Court Judge Joe Brown to the Tennessee Court of Appeals in Jackson, Tenn.

In an hour-long hearing, Summers ruled Brown’s appeal of Juvenile Court Magistrate Harold Horne’s March contempt citation was “improvidently” filed in Criminal Court by Brown’s attorneys and should have been filed with the Court of Appeals.

Summers also ruled that the Tennessee attorney general’s office should prosecute the case at the appeals court level and that he will retain jurisdiction to ensure the appeals court makes a decision on bond for Brown.

Brown remains free on bond set by Criminal Court Judge James Beasley the same day Horne cited Brown for contempt and sentenced him to five days in jail for questioning Horne’s authority and that of Juvenile Court.

Summers ruled Brown’s behavior was “direct contempt against the court system” – a distinction that would not require Juvenile Court to recuse itself from acting immediately on the comments.

But Summers added that he wants the appeals court to decide on the matter of continuing Brown’s bond.

“I don’t want there to be a situation that the Criminal Court has relinquished its jurisdiction and another court says … ‘We are going to put Judge Brown in jail,’” Summers said in his ruling from the bench. “He’s entitled to bond on a five-day contempt.”

Brown’s attorney, Andre Wharton, contends Brown’s due process rights were violated when Juvenile Court officials refused a bond hearing and that Horne’s initial written contempt citation was not a court order that should have led to Brown being jailed.

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