On Thursday, February 15, 2024, ABC24 reported that Tennessee State Senator Brent Taylor had suggested splitting Shelby County’s court system due to issues with judges.

According to the report, Taylor claimed that one-third of Shelby County’s judges had received reprimands from the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct. He cited three judges in particular – General Sessions Judge Bill Anderson, Criminal Court Judge James Jones Jr., and Judge Melissa Boyd.

Judge Anderson had been reprimanded twice for comments criticizing the bail bonds system. Judge Jones was reprimanded last August for writing recommendation letters for two individuals convicted of fraud in another state. Judge Boyd admitted to using illegal drugs while serving as a judge and has been suspended and reprimanded twice. She also faces allegations of trying to coerce a witness in her case.

In light of these reprisals against judges, Taylor proposed splitting the suburban areas from Shelby County into their own court system with a separate district attorney. He argued the current DA, Steve Mulroy, is too lenient on criminals. However, Mulroy disputed that reprimands impact the court’s case backlog, noting judges can still rule on cases. He also stated prosecutors have been trying cases at a faster pace in 2024 compared to the previous year.

Political analysts interviewed in the report, such as Otis Sanford, acknowledged judge reprisals do not reflect well but are not unheard of. Some experts suggested more transparency is needed for judicial elections, as most voters do not thoroughly research candidates. They are often left choosing based simply on name recognition. The Board of Judicial Conduct also commented that only the state legislature has the power to remove a sitting judge after they have been elected to their eight-year terms in Shelby County and Memphis.



Source: ABC24