On Tuesday, September 19, 2023, Judge R. Steven Randolph of Putnam County, Tennessee, was issued a public reprimand by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct for inappropriate comments he made in a video posted on the Putnam County School’s Instagram page.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Steven Randolph,”

In the video, Judge Randolph, while wearing his judicial robe and seated on the bench in a courtroom, declared his intention to crack down on truancy cases in his county. He outlined potential sentences, including mandatory community service at a local recycling center and the possibility of incarcerating parents.

The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct found that Judge Randolph’s comments violated several rules of judicial conduct, including Rule 10, RJC 1.2, which requires judges to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. Additionally, Rule 10, RJC 2.10(A) states that judges must not make public statements that could interfere with the fairness of pending or impending court matters.

The Board expressed concern that Judge Randolph’s comments had the potential to undermine public perception of the judiciary’s impartiality and fairness in ongoing cases. They also noted that such comments could raise disqualification issues for Judge Randolph and other judges in future cases.

Mitigating factors considered by the Board included Judge Randolph’s acceptance of responsibility, lack of excuses, and full cooperation with disciplinary counsel. Additionally, the Board acknowledged that Judge Randolph had no prior disciplinary record.

Consequently, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct issued a public reprimand to Judge Randolph, which he accepted. The Board is hoping that this reprimand serves as a reminder to Judge Randolph and all judges about the importance of maintaining impartiality and avoiding any behavior that could erode public confidence in the judiciary.

Judge R. Steven Randolph is currently serving as the Putnam County General Sessions, Juvenile, and Probate Judge since September 2022. He graduated from Tennessee Tech University in 1995 and the Nashville School of Law in 1999. His courtroom is located at 421 East Spring Street, Suite 1C07, CookevilleTN 38501, and can be reached at (931) 528-5541. His info can be found on the Putnam County website.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.