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.

 


Body Floating In The River Identified As Torrence Sivels, 39

A fisherman spotted a body floating in the Tennessee River early Wednesday morning. The body was later identified as that of Torrence Sivels, 39. Police said the cause of death was pending an autopsy. At approximately 1:50 a.m., the Chattanooga Police Department responded to mile marker 474 of the Tennessee River for a body found. E mergency crews recovered ... (click for more)

Lookout Mountain, Tn., Commission To Choose Sept. 8 Between 2 Cell Tower Firms

The Lookout Mountain, Tn., Commission is set to choose on Sept. 8 which provider will be allowed to erect a new cell tower on the mountain.   Town Consultant Dwight Montague said engineering drawings have been provided to the two companies competing to build the tower and their comments are due May 28 at which time attorney Jim Murphy will tweak the lease if needed. ... (click for more)

The Truth About The Rising Costs To East Ridge On The Fire Hall Property

Re:East Ridge Has To Pay Unexpected $428,000 On Bass Pro Shop Deal   H ere is the truth about this article.    One section of the article says: " Unknown to anybody on the council today, the agreement limited use of the land to a fire hall."     In a letter dated Dec. 15, 2010, Mayor Lambert asked TDOT officials to ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Is It Ever Worth It?

There is a better-than-average chance General John Kelly could soon be named as the new Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. He’s one of four men who have been mentioned in prudent fashion to follow General Joseph Dunford (remember that name for a few minutes) as head of the Corps. General Dunford, who held the job less than a year, has just been chosen by President Obama ... (click for more)

Tull Named SoCon Athlete Of The Year

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga defensive end Davis Tull has been named the 2015 Southern Conference Male Athlete of the Year, the league announced today (May 26). Tull will be honored as part of the league’s annual Honors Dinner on Wednesday night in Hilton Head Island, S.C.   Tull becomes the first Moc to win the Male Athlete of the Year Award. As a senior, he ... (click for more)

Soccer Abounds For Chattanooga FC

The Chattanooga FC soccer team continues it's busy schedule this week with games on Wednesday and Friday in two separate national tournaments.    Chattanooga hosts the Atlanta Silverbacks on Wednesday in the third round of the US Open Cup. The Silverbacks are a professional team that plays in the NASL.   The Silverbacks ended Chattanooga's run in the last year's ... (click for more)