VOL. 131 | NO. 218 | Tuesday, November 1, 2016
General Sessions Judge Anderson Reprimanded by Conduct Board
By Bill Dries
Shelby County General Sessions Court Judge Bill Anderson has been publicly reprimanded by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct for intervening in the case of an acquaintance arrested and jailed in Bartlett last year.
The public reprimand, released Saturday, Oct. 29, and signed by board chairman and Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft, follows an investigation of a complaint against Anderson.
The reprimand describes “an acquaintance” of Anderson who was arrested and jailed Dec. 19 in Bartlett. The report does not identify the person or what they were charged with.
Anderson made several telephone calls to learn if bond had been set or would be set, but had obtained no information. The next morning Anderson went to the Bartlett jail and learned that bail would be set the next day – a Monday. Anderson asked for the telephone number of a Bartlett judge, but jailers said they didn’t have the number. That’s when Anderson “informed the jailer in charge that as a General Sessions Judge with Shelby County jurisdiction, you were setting bail for the acquaintance and the acquaintance was to be released on his own recognizance,” the reprimand reads.
The jailer refused to release the person and Anderson left. Later that day, a Bartlett judge set the bond at $10,000.
Anderson then called the judge “and asked if the Bartlett judge had knowledge that you have previously directed a release on recognizance,” the reprimand reads. “The Bartlett judge declined to reduce the bond he had set.”
Anderson’s conduct, the board concluded, violated the judicial canon that “a judge shall uphold and promote the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.” Anderson also violated the canons that “a judge shall perform the duties of judicial office impartially, competently and diligently,” and “a judge shall conduct the judge’s personal and extrajudicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with the obligations of judicial office.”
The reprimand also notes that once he was notified of the complaint, Anderson “promptly and with candor responded” and cooperated in the investigation.