Sheriff Says Probe Underway On Whether There Is Abuse Of Juror Meals; Judge Says Officers Have Been Trusted

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sheriff Jim Hammond said an Internal Affairs investigation began this week on whether there have been abuses related to meals for jurors and accompanying court officers.

"There have been allegations that too much is being spent and that food is going to the wrong people," he said.

Sheriff Hammond said the allegations came "from court personnel."

He said, "We've got a lot of people to talk to, including the judges."

The sheriff said the Criminal Court judges - Barry Steelman, Don Poole and Rebecca Stern - oversee the meal program. He said they issue vouchers when there are sequestered juries and they later review and sign off on the vouchers. Then, he said, the state pays the bill under an arrangement with the restaurant.

He stated, "It's all under the control of the judges."

But he noted that he is over Lt. Rick Hamrick, who is over the court officers and who, he said, gets and distributes the food vouchers. This week he placed Lt. Hamrick on suspension.

Judge Stern said while she has been there for 17 years that the judges have not reviewed the meal spending, but have trusted the court officers on the meal expenses.

Sheriff Hammond said, "No money changes hands. This is not about any missing money."

He said he did not have an opinion on whether places like the Boat House and Hennen's Restaurant are too ritzy for meals on the taxpayers' dime.

Judge Stern in the past has told jurors in court that their options included the Boat House and Hennen's.

Jurors have long been paid $13 per day for their service.

They also have to pay for parking - except they can get $2 off on a Republic Parking lot and can park free if they take the shuttle from the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

 


Briston Smith Charged In Slaying Of Teen, Who Wrecked Vehicle In North Chattanooga

A man has been arrested in Catoosa County for the murder of the teen whose vehicle was involved in a wreck in North Chattanooga on Monday night. Briston Smith was taken into custody at the home of a family member on Pinto Lane. Smith was to  be charged with possession of marijuana for resale in Catoosa County and the murder of 19-year-old Charles Holsey in Hamilton County. ... (click for more)

Fanatics Gets 3-Day Beer License Suspension After Employee Drinks On The Job, Hits Firefighter

Fanatics bar has been given a three-day beer license suspension after an employee drank on the job and then struck a firefighter who was directing traffic.   In the incident on Feb. 1, Chattanooga Police Officer Brian Blumberg responded to an accident on East Brainerd Road. When he arrived, he found Larry O'Rear, who had been helping direct traffic at the site of ... (click for more)

The Middle Valley Walmart Makes No Sense

There has been quite a bit of hoopla over the proposed new Walmart grocery store in Middle Valley.  Since my family has lived in Middle Valley in a home they built by hand way back in 1954 and said house is now housing generations 3, 4 and 5 I feel that I can give my opinion based on nothing more than life experience.    When this house was built there was a gravel ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Father Kelly’s ‘Hallelujah’

Last April, in the special way that only some older men are lucky enough to possess, the childish imp came out in Father Ray Kelly. A parish priest in Oldcastle, Ireland, he was conducting wedding vows for a handsome couple when the 62-year-old decided to surprise them with a totally-unscripted rendition of Leonard Cohen’s beautiful song, “Hallelujah.” When he did, there soon ... (click for more)

UTC Women Open Southern Conference Tournament With Big Win

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga sophomore Jasmine Joyner (Southaven, Tenn.) posted a double-double with a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds and led the Mocs to a 78-44 win over UNCG Thursday afternoon at Kimmel Arena. Joyner was 9-for-10 on the day from the field and pulled down eight defensive boards. She added four blocked shots to her SoCon record for 122 on the ... (click for more)

TSSAA State Tournament Games Postponed Due To Weather

All TSSAA state basketball tournament games scheduled for today have been postponed due to extremely hazardous road conditions.  Today’s schedule will resume tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. in order to allow extra time to for road conditions to improve in the morning.   Friday’s scheduled semifinal games will be played on Saturday beginning at 1:30 p.m. due ... (click for more)