Judges, DA, Criminal Court Clerk Shoot Down Graham Idea Of Part-Time Magistrates

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Judge Christie Sell
Judge Christie Sell

Four General Sessions Court judges, the district attorney and the Criminal Court clerk appeared before the County Commission on Wednesday to shoot down a suggestion by Commissioner Joe Graham for replacing four full-time magistrates with one full-time and a fleet of part-time civil attorneys.

Commissioner Graham said the change had the potential of saving the county over $400,000 a year, though Chairman Randy Fairbanks said those numbers had not come from county financial officials and needed to be verified.

Commissioner Graham said he had "just been throwing out a suggestion" after some attorneys called him with the idea.

Judge Christie Sell said the magistrate post "is one of the most important jobs in our community" and should not be left to part-time attorneys unable to practice criminal law. The full-time magistrates cannot practice criminal or civil law so their pay was recently raised by the commission.

Judge Sell said giving those charged with crimes due process is a primary consideration. She said the county could face liability issues if most of the bonds and search warrants were handled by part-time civil lawyers.

Judge Clarence Shattuck also spoke against the change, saying the system is working very well now. He said, "We have had fewer issues over the last two years than any time in the history of the program."

Judges Gary Starnes and Lila Statom were also present.

District Attorney Neal Pinkston said the change "could have a detrimental effect on the entire judicial system."

He said the magistrates handle over 50,000 cases a year, and "we need highly competent people" serving. He said the change could also slow up the booking process at the jail - especially if a civil attorney had a conflict and could not hear a case and another magistrate had to be fetched.

Vince Dean, Criminal Court clerk, also expressed concern about the move and its effect on the flow of cases.

Randy Russell, who has been a magistrate for eight years including the last five as chief magistrate, said there was a move away from part-time magistrates after early problems in the program. He said fill-ins are seldom used any more. 

Commissioner Chester Bankston said, "From what I've heard today, it would be disastrous if we did this."

Commissioner Greg Beck said, "As far as I'm concerned, we were on the right track in the first place."

 



Bradley County Arrest Report

Click  here  for the latest Bradley County arrest report. (click for more)

Walker County Arrest Report For Aug. 13-19

Here is the Walker County arrest report for Aug. 13-19: SLUDER        RANDY          EDWARD      W/M    34        OFFICER WILSON   POSSESSION OF METHAMPHETAMINE, THEFT BY TAKING-MISDEMEANOR YOUNG         ... (click for more)

Harold Austin Was Hamilton County's Crown Jewel

My dear friend, longtime public servant, Mr. Harold Austin, will be greatly missed. He was with the state of Tennessee and Hamilton County for many years. Doyle Ray Marler * * * Harold Austin was Hamilton County’s crown jewel.   He was beloved by generations in municipal and state government. He knew so many involved in local, state, and federal roadway ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Many Math-Tragic Replies

The reaction to my Sunday story, “90% Can’t Do Math,” was fast and furious yesterday. A surprising number of the replies were from teachers, confirming the fact that only nine percent of the pupils in our Hamilton County Public Schools are getting the education that every taxpayer know will actually shape the lives these students will live. Because my stories are shared on the ... (click for more)

Host Baylor 3-0 In Invitational Soccer Tournament

The Baylor girls soccer team won three games this past weekend in their own invitational tournament.   On Friday, Baylor beat Independence 2-0 in a game that was suspended due to lightning at the half.   Allya Cooper scored off an assist from Ara Rhodes and Mya McGee scored off an assist from Cambell Green.   Peyton Randolph earned the shutout ... (click for more)

Mocs Soccer Blanks Georgia Southern 3-0 Sunday Afternoon On The Road

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga earned a 3-0 shutout at Georgia Southern on a hot and humid  Sunday  afternoon. The Mocs start the season at 2-0 for the first time since 2009 and the Eagles are 0-2 in the opening weekend.   “Great performance on the road,” Chattanooga head coach Gavin McKinney said. “Georgia Southern is a tough opponent and we had ... (click for more)