On Wednesday, November 8, 2023, Chancellor Russell T. Perkins of the Nashville Chancery Court in Tennessee received a public reprimand for repeatedly failing to rule on motions in a pending case.

According to a letter from the Board of Judicial Conduct, Perkins failed to rule on six motions that were heard in November 2022 for nearly a year until a complaint was filed against him in September 2023.

The complainant asserted that the lack of rulings from Perkins has prevented the parties from conducting discovery or moving the case forward for almost a year. In his response, Perkins acknowledged that he could have ruled on the motions within 30 days of the hearing but provided no reasonable explanation for the 11-month delay. This is not the first time Perkins has faced sanctions for undue delays – he has previously received two private sanctions for similar issues.

As part of the public reprimand, Perkins must submit semi-annual reports to the Board identifying any pending matters in his court that have exceeded established timeframes. He must also explain any delays. If Perkins fails to comply with this reporting requirement, he will face an immediate 30-day suspension. Additionally, any further meritorious complaints of unreasonable delay filed against Perkins before the end of his term will result in an additional 30-day suspension.

The Board expressed concern that Perkins’ repetitive delays damage the public’s confidence in the judiciary. They determined a public reprimand was necessary due to the length of the most recent delay and Perkins’ history of this conduct despite prior sanctions. Going forward, strict compliance with the reporting requirements and swift discipline for additional complaints aim to ensure matters in Perkins’ court do not languish without reason. The reprimand serves as a warning that further misconduct will not be tolerated.

Russell T. Perkins, a Democratic Party judge, serves in Tennessee’s 20th Judicial District Chancery Court (Part IV). Appointed in March 2008 by former Governor Phil Bredesen, his term lasts until September 1, 2030. Perkins successfully ran for re-election on August 4, 2022. Judge Perkins’ courtroom is located at 1 Public Square, Suite 411 Nashville, TN 37201, and can be reached at 615-880-3422.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.