ugg australia sheepskin care kit How embattled Criminal Court Clerk David Torrence could lose his job
In 2006, a group of Coopertown, Tenn., residents thought their then mayor, Danny Crosby, had defamed their community good name. soldiers passing through town to and from FortVet Campbell and Nashville, and engaged in other generally egregious acts of misconduct.
When the citizens group filed an ouster petition against Crosby, District Attorney General John W. Carney was obligated to investigate. Carney filed the ouster suit and an order for suspension of the mayor in Robertson County Chancery Court on June 27, 2006. A month later, after a trial court hearing, Crosby was temporarily suspended. In November 2006, the court held a three day bench trial to consider 14 allegations although dozens were made in the original complaint against the mayor.
The court found that Crosby had encouraged his police officers to soldier boys and Hispanics, because the latter were less likely to contest them. In both instances, though, the court found no and convincing evidence that racial profiling or issuing a lopsided number of tickets to certain groups had actually happened.
The trial court said Crosby acted with sexism and utter foolishness, but the plaintiff Carney, working on behalf of the Coopertown residents failed to prove that the mayor or willfully committed misconduct severe enough to meet the legal grounds for removal from office.
Popularly elected public officials aren often bounced. The burden of proof is high, and countering the will of the voters is risky. The procedure can be complicated and costly both in time and money spent. Not to mention the soap opera that can result for both the voters and the official they elected, like running dirty laundry up the flagpole in the public square.
Davidson County District Attorney Torry Johnson office now faces the task of investigating Criminal Court Clerk David Torrence after a WSMV Channel 4 story and humiliating on camera interview in April revealed the Criminal Court Clerk works three days a week, used a county car to run errands (including buying alcohol) and hired his two sons without advertising those positions.
In August, Torrence won re election to the office he held for more than 16 years, beating out challenger James Arnold Baxter by about 12,000 votes. Torrence makes $125,000 a year running the office his father, Joe Torrence, once led.
During the interview with WSMV, Torrence appeared defiant when asked about his practice of taking off Wednesdays and Fridays.
is what it is, Torrence said, with no apparent remorse. That comment apparently ruffled feathers in the Metro Council, and it was later included in a resolution calling for Torrence resignation.
A representative from the Criminal Court Clerk office told The City Paper Torrence would not comment on the claims.
Johnson told reporters at a news conference in late May that after numerous discussions with representatives from the Metro Department of Law and the Attorney General, his office would conduct the investigation to determine how or whether Torrence neglected his duty or misbehaved in office enough to be tossed to the curb.
Johnson pointed out two sections of state law that could apply to removing a court clerk from office. One allows judges to remove their clerks for as many as six reasons. In Torrence case, the one that might apply, Johnson said, is incapacity, neglect of duty or misbehavior in office.
But the procedure of a judge removing a clerk leaves much to be determined, according to the district attorney. The state ouster statute that allows for the removal of elected officials might be the clearer path, but as Johnson said, it very elabo rate process.
Johnson also pointed out that there had been no indication of criminal activity on Torrence part. The investigation by the district attorney office simply resulted from the alleged misbehavior.
During a 2009 presentationto the Tennessee Municipal Attorneys Association, former Franklin City Attorney Karen Beyke offered her cohorts a bit of tongue in cheek advice about ouster proceedings: turn and run away.
But municipal and state attorneys have no choice but to investigate once a reasonable complaint is made.
According to Beyke, ouster proceedings can be brought and investigated by several institutions, including the state attorney general office, a district attorney office or a city attorney office. The governor can request an investigation. As well, a group of 10 citizens can file a petition against a public official, which the city attorney then must investigate.
State law lays the ground for removal of an elected public official with several key points: whether the official or willfully commit[ted] misconduct in office, neglected any required duty, was drunk
in public, engaged in illegal gambling, or committed a of any penal statute involving moral turpitude. standard of proof for filing an ouster suit is low, Beyke said. But the higher and convincing bar for evidence is difficult to meet.
a quirky little thing, Beyke said. guess the idea is you eventually may get more evidence as you proceed, and that certainly what happened in my case.
Four years ago, while Beyke was still Franklin city attorney, she received a written notice from an alderman alleging that Mary Dodson Randolph, at the time also a Franklin alderwoman, had committed an act to warrant an investigation and a possible ouster suit. That written notice obligated Beyke to investigate the claims.
There another quirk to the ouster process: Once a suit is filed either in a chancery, circuit or criminal court it takes precedence over all other pending cases. Although they fast tracked, some ouster suits never the light of day, Beyke said, because the discovery process can take a long time. If the case is successful, there can also be a lengthy appeals process.
In Beyke presentation to the city attorneys, she said of all the reported ouster cases that made it to the appellate court level in the state up to 2007, 49 percent were dismissed for various reasons, 34 percent led to an official removal, and 17 percent were moot because the official resigned, was voted out of office or left office at the end of a term. She said records of local ouster suits only show up if they been appealed.
Calls to the Davidson County Trial Courts, the state attorney general office and the Administrative Office of the Courts confirmed that there is no uniform system to keep tabs on ouster cases, much less instances of judges removing court clerks.
Since 2006, there have beenat least three prominent calls for ouster in Tennessee, including the one against Crosby.
The most recent came in 2009, when Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr. declined to file suit after his office investigation into allegations that Knox County Mayor Michael Ragsdale illegally bonded uniformed officers pensions, inappropriately used the county card system, paid personal debts with campaign funds and generally mishandled taxpayers money.
The attorney general report on allegations against Ragsdale stated that investigators found no evidence of violations that rose to the level of severity required to file an ouster suit.
is not a favored remedy, and courts are reluctant to remove an elected official except in sufficiently serious cases, the report reads. courts have set a high burden of proof for the statutorily required showing of knowing and willful misconduct in office, adding that the Supreme Court has cautioned against using ouster proceedings to penalize public officials simply for using bad judgment.
In the spring of 2007, Beyke, as Franklin city attorney, was tapped to investigate Randolph under the state ouster statute based on allegations she harassed as well as physically and electronically stalked at least 10 Franklin citizens, sending threatening messages (some sexual) to them, including to a female minor.