On Wednesday, November 15, 2023, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded Knoxville Municipal Court Judge John R. Rosson Jr. for using his courtroom to hold a campaign event.

According to a letter released by Board Chair G. Andrew Brigham, Judge Rosson, who has served on the bench for 36 years, held a campaign event on October 11, 2023, that was open to the media.

During the event in his courtroom, Judge Rosson stood in front of his bench and accepted an endorsement from a local attorney. He also announced another endorsement from an attorney who was not present. Judge Rosson then proceeded to make a “campaign speech” where he asked viewers to vote for him. He also took questions from the media about his campaign and opponent.

The Board’s letter states that the ethics rules prohibit judges from making “inappropriate use of court premises, staff, stationery, equipment, or other resources” for campaign purposes. Judges are also not allowed to use their position to advance their personal interests or allow others to do so. All judges must promote public confidence in the judiciary and avoid any impropriety or appearance of impropriety.

As an experienced judge, the Board said Judge Rosson should have known it was improper to hold a campaign event in his courtroom. By doing so, he leveraged his judicial office for campaign gain in violation of the rules. The investigative panel imposed a public reprimand, which Judge Rosson accepted.

In determining the sanction, the panel considered mitigating factors such as Judge Rosson taking full responsibility, offering no excuses, and having no prior disciplinary history in his 36-year career. The Board hopes the public reprimand will increase Judge Rosson’s awareness of ethical obligations required of judges, especially during election campaigns.

Judge Rosson‘s courtroom is located at 1650 Huron Street, Knoxville, TN. 37917, and can be reached at 865-215-7474.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.