Attorneys are asking that a burglary case be dismissed in East Ridge Court on grounds that the defendant did not receive "a neutral and detached magistrate" because of actions of City Manager Tim Gobble over the court clerk's office.
Attorney Chris Dixon said Mr. Gobble "has his hand over the police department and over the clerk's office. That's a problem. It's a severe problem."
Special Judge Kevin Wilson, who is also the judge for Collegedale, took the matter under advisement and said he will rule after getting legal briefs, including one from City Attorney John Anderson, who appeared to seek to quash a subpoena issued to Mr. Gobble.
Mr. Gobble recently had a confrontation with longtime Clerk Joanne Thomas involving a case in which his daughter and her male friend were robbed at gunpoint. He suspended Ms. Thomas for five days without pay, and he later reprimanded two other members of the clerk's office.
Attorney Cris Helton, a former East Ridge city attorney, said Mr. Gobble is deeply involved in running both the police department and the court clerk's office and he said that is a constitutional violation as spelled out in the U.S. Supreme Court's Shadwick decision.
He noted that Mr. Gobble had copied Safety Director Eddie Phillips on emails to Ms. Thomas and the two court clerks.
Judge Wilson said he would seek to make a ruling without calling either Mr. Gobble or Ms. Thomas as a witness so as "not to stir up any more of this hornet's nest."
He said there is an issue of whether the city manager was "overreaching" in his roles with both the police department and the court clerk's office.
Attorney Helton said Mr. Gobble has maintained he is in charge of both and that the judge (Arvin Reingold) only is involved with the clerk's office on the one night a week he presides at court.
Prosecutor Darren Gibson said the state has an interest in the case "because the validity of our warrants is at issue."
The burglary case of John Graham was passed until Nov. 13 when Judge Wilson is expected to rule.
Charges in the robbery case involving Mr. Gobble's daughter as a victim were bound to the Grand Jury without a hearing. Ms. Gobble and her male friend were called up to the front of the courtroom as the annoucement was made about the bind over.