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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Local judge "loses it" on bench

Unprofessional demeanor?

Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood's recent on-camera behavior in the courtroom leaves one wondering how he ever go there in the first place. Screaming threats of contempt of court to long-time Attorney General Randy Nichols, Blackwood appears to be having problems maintaining judicial decorum.

All the screaming was over the potential retrial of three of the defendants charged in the Christian-Newsom murders originally presided over by Judge Richard Baumgartner.  Baumgartner's departure from the bench occurred when his addiction to pain pills came to light. Adding to the mix, his drug dealer was a previous defendant in his courtroom and another had ties with Baumgartner both for drugs and romantic liaisons. Not exactly a great image for the judges here in Knoxville. Now comes his replacement, Blackwood, who not only screams at our AG, but also defies a Tennessee Supreme Court decision that he should recuse himself if new trials are granted in the case. He also refused to let the prosecutors argue for recusal in court last Friday.

Blackwood also made remarks regarding John Gill, Special Counsel to the AG's  office, referencing an email in which Gill notes Blackwood's hatred for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. He further stated that Blackwood was engaged in private communications with the defense attorneys. Am I making this clear? Blackwood has set himself up for recusal for an entirely different reason from the arguments made to the Tennessee State Supreme Court. This kind of communications between a judge and the defense attorneys is prohibited.

Two judges. Two very ugly pictures. One disbarred. One having temper tantrums in the courtroom. Come this way with me, and I'll show you another judge who could stand a good dose of the light of day. His name is Bill Swann. He has held the Fourth Circuit Court bench since 1982. His resume is astounding. This private school Fulbright Scholar taught German at Yale and Brown before coming to the University of Tennessee's College of Law.

So what.

I sat in the courtroom of Judge Swan on six separate occasions. I heard him state that women who ask for Orders of Protection are just doing so "for entertainment." He was inattentive, condescending and arrogant. His lovely background at Ivy League colleges and European intellectual forays have *nothing* to do with how this man treats women. His seat on this bench is a slap in the face to any victim of domestic violence. Period.

So now we have three judges that just don't quite smell right. What's wrong with a justice system that allows for this unbridled unprofessional behavior by men that are making judgments that change people's lives. I think it's time for some good old-fashioned sunshine.