Cleveland Judge Stepping Down From Bench After Tape Investigation

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Cleveland Circuit Court judge is resigning at the end of the month.

Judge John B. Hagler Jr., 65, recently presided over the case in which Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble sued the county seeking additional funding.

The resignation was related to an investigation of a tape in which Judge Hagler discussed his "fantasies", but no criminal charges were filed.

Chattanooga Police reportedly came upon the tape during a criminal investigation.

District Attorney Steve Bebb said, "This office reviewed the audiotape on Monday, Dec. 3, 2007, and after meeting with my staff for their advice, the TBI and myself approached Judge Hagler with this evidence.

"There was no evidence that Judge Hagler had committed any crime. Our concern was that if this tape got in the wrong hands, the judge would have been a candidate for blackmail.

"Judge Hagler assured us that he had never been compromised. This office would investigate further if there were any credible evidence that a crime had been committed.

"This office is saddened for Judge Hagler and his family in this trying time."

District Attorney Bebb has called a press briefing on the matter for Thursday at 1 p.m. in the conference room of the Cleveland Office of the District Attorney General.

Judge Hagler had been the presiding judge for the 10th Judicial District. Officials said Wednesday that Judge Carroll L. Ross has been elected presiding judge for the district, succeeding Judge Hagler.

Judge Hagler said in a written statement, "On Friday, Dec. 7, I was confronted by law enforcement officials with information of an audio tape recording. I was told it has been in the hands of law enforcement officials for two years. I have not heard the recording or seen the tape. But I believe it to be a private communication made by me for my private use. It was intended for no one else's ears. I was told that, after extensive investigation, unknown to me, it was concluded that no crime was committed. This was the first time I learned that such a recording still existed or was no longer private.

"I have committed no crime. I have done nothing wrong except to cause great embarrassment to my family, friends and the state judiciary.

"I have tendered my resignation because of this embarrassment and to leave no room for anyone to reasonably question my integrity as a judge. I will continue holding court until the end of the month unless requested or directed by other higher authority.

"I appreciate the support and trust of the people of the 10th Judicial District. I have never, as judge, dishonored their trust."

Judge Hagler, a Democrat, was elected Circuit Court judge in a contested election in 1990 and re-elected without opposition in 1998 and 2006. He is currently presiding judge of the district.

He served seven years on the executive committee of the Tennessee Judicial Conference and three terms as president of the Tennessee Trial Judges Association.

He and his wife have two adult children.

The 10th Judicial District includes Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties.

The Judicial Selection Commission
accepts and reviews applications to fill unexpired judicial terms,
interviews applicants, conducts a public hearing and recommends three
names to the governor.

An application deadline is expected to be posted on the Tennessee State Courts website Thursday. The commission will set a date for the public hearing and applicant interviews as soon as possible.

When a vacancy is for a trial court position, the governor must select one of the three applicants recommended by the commission. When the vacancy is an
appellate court position, the governor may ask for a second list of names from which to appoint a new judge. The commission met six times in calendar year 2007.

New Book Chattanooga In Old Photos Now Available At Zarzours

The new book Chattanooga in Old Photos, sponsored by, is now available at Zarzours Restaurant on the Southside. John Wilson, publisher and editor of the large-size, soft-bound book, will be at Zarzours on Thursday from 11:30 to 1:30 to sign copies of the book. The limited edition of 800 copies is printed by College Press of Collegedale. ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ARNOLD, WILLIE CARL  3600 SHIRL JO LN CHATTANOOGA, 37421  Age at Arrest: 30 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County FAILURE TO APPEAR DRIVING ON REVOKED, SUSPENDED OR CANCELLED LICENSE --- BARNES, DYLAN WESLEY  1026 PINNACLE HILLS DRIVE MURFREESBORO, 37127  Age at Arrest: 23 ... (click for more)

Drink Up, Chattanooga

I attended the meeting to discuss the placement of the sewage treatment plant at the Cambridge Center in Ooltewah today. My problem with the meeting (aka) dog and pony show, is that the meeting started out with the agenda of the Ooltewah Community Council.  After living in this area for 45+ years I have never heard of this group.  I would like for someone to answer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Dear Faux Pelini

It has been my experience that of all the tribes and herds of different people on earth, sports writers are among the funniest people of all. Oh, there isn’t anything real sexy about Villanova beating Georgetown or a baseball player hitting for the cycle. Now, if a player hits a single, double, triple and homer in that order, that’s “a natural cycle,” and that is kind of fun to ... (click for more)

Knox Catholic Ends East Hamilton's Bid For Class 2A State Volleyball Title

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – East Hamilton’s bid to reach the TSSAA Class 2A state tournament title game was dashed Wednesday night when the Lady Hurricanes fell to Knoxville Catholic, 3-0, for the second time in as many days. Scores were 25-23, 25-22 and 25-17. “It’s hard to come back after playing a really good match like we did against Camden,” East Hamilton coach Bojana Hyatt ... (click for more)

Sale Creek Whips Watertown, 3-0, For Shot At First Class 1A State Volleyball Title

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Sale Creek wasn’t ready to head home short of its ultimate goal. And the roadblock Hickman County put up was nothing but a diminutive speed bump. Sale Creek (38-7) used its fast-paced attack to overwhelm the Lady Bulldogs, 3-0, Wednesday afternoon and remained alive in the loser’s bracket of the TSSAA Class 1A state volleyball tournament at Middle Tennessee ... (click for more)