IN THE DAVIDSON COUNTY GENERAL SESSIONS CRIMINAL COURT

GS882658, GS882659, GS882660


IN THE

DAVIDSON COUNTY GENERAL SESSIONS
CRIMINAL COURT


STATE OF TENNESSEE,
Plaintiff,
v.
JUSTIN BAUTISTA-JONES
Defendant.


BRIEF AMICI CURIAE FOR

THE TENNESSEE EQUALITY PROJECT, NASHVILLE CHAPTER OF THE NAACP,  SEN. RAUMESH AKBARI, SEN. BRENDA GILMORE, REP. GLORIA JOHNSON, REP. G.A. HARDAWAY, REP. BILL BECK, REP. VINCENT DIXIE, REP. BO MITCHELL, REP. JASON POTTS, REP. JOHN RAY CLEMMONS, REP. BOB FREEMAN, REP. DARREN JERNIGAN, REP. HAROLD M. LOVE JR.,  COUNCILWOMAN ERICA GILMORE, HON. SHERRY JONES, HON. JERRY MAYNARD,  DR. SEKOU FRANKLIN, PROFESSOR AT MTSU

IN SUPPORT OF DEFENSE MOTION TO DISQUALIFY DISTRICT ATTORNEY CRAIG NORTHCOTT OF THE 14TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT AS DISTRICT ATTORNEY PRO TEM IN CASE OF STATE V. JONES   


KEVIN W. TEETS JR.
LAW OFFICE OF KEVIN TEETS
P.O. BOX 60121
NASHVILLE, TN 37206
(615) 933-8230
COUNSEL FOR AMICI CURIAE

SUNNY EATON
EASTSIDE LEGAL
731 PORTER RD.
NASHVILLE, TN 37206
(615) 600-4577
COUNSEL FOR AMICI CURIAE

IN THE

DAVIDSON COUNTY GENERAL SESSIONS
CRIMINAL COURT


STATE OF TENNESSEE,
Plaintiff,
v.
JUSTIN BAUTISTA-JONES
Defendant.


BRIEF AMICI CURIAE FOR

THE TENNESSEE EQUALITY PROJECT, NASHVILLE CHAPTER OF THE NAACP,  SEN. RAUMESH AKBARI, SEN. BRENDA GILMORE, REP. GLORIA JOHNSON, REP. G.A. HARDAWAY, REP. BILL BECK, REP. VINCENT DIXIE, REP. BO MITCHELL, REP. JASON POTTS, REP. JOHN RAY CLEMMONS, REP. BOB FREEMAN, REP. DARREN JERNIGAN, REP. HAROLD M. LOVE JR.,  COUNCILWOMAN ERICA GILMORE, HON. SHERRY JONES, HON. JERRY MAYNARD,  DR. SEKOU FRANKLIN, PROFESSOR AT MTSU

IN SUPPORT OF DEFENSE MOTION TO DISQUALIFY DISTRICT ATTORNEY CRAIG NORTHCOTT OF THE 14TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT AS DISTRICT ATTORNEY PRO TEM IN CASE OF STATE V. JONES   

IDENTITY AND INTERESTS OF AMICI

The identity and interests of Amici are as follows:

Amicus curiae Tennessee Equality Project  (TEP) was founded in 2004 and is an organization that advocates for the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Tennesseans by lobbying state and local government. This September the organization will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of successfully lobbying the Nashville Davidson County Metro Council to pass an ordinance banning discrimination of metro employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. During the most recent state legislative session, TEP organized the support of more than 100 religious leaders in its effort to defeat bills TEP identified as the “Slate of Hate,” because the proposed laws targeted and discriminated against LGBT Tennesseans.

Amicus curiae Nashville Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) celebrated its 100th year of African American Activism in March of 2019. The organization was founded in 1909 as an answer to the crisis of the lynching of Black men, women, and children. The Nashville Branch was chartered in 1919 and has been pivotal in fighting against social and systematic injustices including segregation, gentrification, inequality, voting rights, transportation, housing, education, and employment, as well as unjust laws in the criminal justice system.

Amicus curiae Sen. Raumesh Akbari, Sen. Brenda Gilmore, Rep. Gloria Johnson, Rep. G.A. Hardaway, Rep. Bill Beck, Rep. Vincent Dixie, Rep. Bo Mitchell, Rep. Jason Potts, Rep. John Ray Clemmons, Rep. Bob Freeman, Rep. Darren Jernigan, Rep. Harold M. Love Jr., represent members of the current Tennessee House of Representatives who believe Nashville deserves better than having District Attorney Northcott representing the inter

Amicus curiae Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, Hon. Sherry Jones, Hon. Jerry Maynard represents both past and present members of the Davidson County Metro Council.

The Parties joining as Amicus Curiae herein represent the views of those interested in preserving the integrity of our judicial system and those who believe that justice should be impartial. The parties comprise a wide-range of professionals including past and current elected officials serving in the Nashville Davidson County Metro Counsel, the Tennessee State House of Representatives and the Tennessee State Senate. They also include attorneys who are licensed to practice in Tennessee and include representatives of organizations and churches who believe it is improper for District Attorney General Northcott to remain as a special prosecutor in this present case of State v. Jones.

The Parties who come before this Honorable Court through this Amicus Curiae do so because they believe our form of government survives the test of time only when the people’s business is performed in the sunlight in a way that neither offends nor diminishes public integrity nor public trust.

The Parties hereto believe that an officer of the Court, specifically, an officer of the Court who acts as a representative of the people of Tennessee as a District Attorney General, should be an individual whose character is not impeachable, who will follow the laws of our land, who respects the authority vested in the Courts of this State and our federal government and whose past official statements or acts do not call into question the ability of justice to be fair and impartial and delivered equally under the law to all citizens no matter their race, gender, sexuality, creed, religious belief, or position of power.  Lastly, the Parties hereto in this Amicus Curiae believe that this Court and this Court only is invested with the authority and power at the present moment to rule on the motion for District Attorney General Pro Temp., Craig Northcott to be disqualified.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

This case is about much more than the offense(s) allegedly committed by Defendant Jones, who is a 23-year-old African American divinity student at Vanderbilt University. An understanding of this case cannot take place without also fully understanding the fall of disgraced Speaker of the House Glen Casada, the first person ever in the history of Tennessee to be forced out of the Office of the Speaker after his own party of Republicans voted that they no longer had confidence in his ability to lead.

As the gavel was passed from Speaker Beth Harwell to Speaker Glen Casada a legislative session that was embroiled in special investigations and new scandals began with journalists uncovering text messages which would  reveal Speaker Casada and his chief of staff, Cade Cothren, engaging  in communications with one another that was racist, sexist, and unbecoming of the Office of Speaker.

As each new allegation surfaced, Casada would deny its existence, despite the evidence that would show otherwise. Further scandals surfaced that involved Cothren using cocaine while working at the legislature, allegations that Casada tried to coerce and unduly influence an ethics committee report that was being produced about his conduct as Speaker, and even allegations that Casada and his office traded votes for favors and promises including allegations by Rep. Jon Mark Windle that Casada promised him a promotion in the Tennessee National Guard from his rank of colonel to general.

Among the scandals were criticism in how the Speaker’s office handled protestors at the capitol, including Defendant Jones, who is not a stranger to participating in demonstrations and protests against elected officials at all levels of government. But unlike Speaker Harwell, who would meet with Jones and others who wanted to be heard by their elected representatives, Speaker Casada wanted to foreclose Jones from participation in democracy all together.

Jones is one of several student activists who were present at the capitol calling on the removal of controversial busts at the capitol. The incidents giving rise to the criminal charges Jones faces, in this case, occurred during an altercation of words between Jones and Casada that is alleged to have escalated when Jones launched a Styrofoam cup at Speaker Casada, causing Jones to be tackled by troopers and arrested and criminally charged with assault.

As a condition of his bond, Jones was barred from stepping on the government property of the legislature or capitol and was also to have no contact with Speaker Casada or Casada’s office.  

Days later, an email from the Speaker’s office was sent to the Davidson County District Attorney that purported itself to be an email from Jones to the speaker’s office, showing a sent date after the bond conditions were in effect. Fortunately, Jones was able to produce the actual email which showed different dates and that the email was sent prior to the bond conditions being in place. Allegations were made at this point that the Speaker and/or his office falsely produced evidence in attempts to further silence Jones by having him await his trial in the custody of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department.

The Speaker himself first stated to the media that he had no knowledge of the email sent to the Nashville District Attorney asking for Jones’s bond to be revoked. Then later, Casada and other high-profile lawmakers began telling the press and public that after an initial inquiry with the legislative IT department it was a spam filter that delayed the email that Jones sent and caused it to appear as if it was sent during a time that the bond conditions were in place.

Several media outlets and others with knowledge in email system have weighed in saying that the excuse offered by Casada and his staff blaming spam filters has no basis in fact or even a mere possibility of truth.

For reasons not presently known, District Attorney Glenn Funk asks for a special prosecutor to be appointed in this case. The special prosecutor named by the District Attorney’s General Conference is Craig Northcott. As a spotlight was placed on Northcott, he too, it was revealed has a past riddled with an intent to oppress minority populations from the rights that have been given to them by the laws of our country.

It appears that DA Northcott was not only tasked with the prosecution of Jones but to consider whether criminal activity occurred in the production of emails that may have been fabricated by the Speaker’s office. Northcott has recently stated that he talked to employees of the Speaker’s office and believed them when they said a spam filter was to blame.

For justice to prevail in this case, and for the public to maintain trust in its government and in the judicial system, someone other than the state’s number two most embattled in scandal elected official (Northcott) should be appointed to oversee whether the number one most embattled in scandal elected official (Casada) violated the trust of their public office or committed criminal acts. DA Northcott has conflicts that should bar him from being the special prosecutor and has a record showcasing nothing short of his own blatant disrespect for the Courts and the laws that they have passed. Further, Northcott has made clear that he will not prosecute individuals who violate the laws of our country and state when they are following the laws of his interpretation of God.

ARGUMENT

  1. THIS COURT HAS THE AUTHORITY TO DECLARE NORTHCOTT DISQUALIFIED AND THE COURT’S RESPONSIBILITY TO MAINTAIN THE PUBLIC’S TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN THE JUDICIARY REQUIRES NORTHCOTT TO BE DISQUALIFIED.
    1. This Court has Authority to Disqualify Because it is Bound by Judicial Canons that Demand Disqualification

In Wilson v. Wilson, the Court of Appeals evaluated whether the appointment of a special prosecutor was appropriate.[1] The Court of Appeals considered the judicial canons that judges in the state of Tennessee are to follow. The Court of Appeals stated:

“We perceive that for at least two reasons the judicial canons are relevant to this issue. First of all, judges must “strive to enhance and maintain confidence in our legal system,“[2], and secondly, because the appointing judge has the responsibility to “act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”[3][4]

The Wilson Court, in analyzing the judicial canons, surmised that if the integrity of the judiciary and the legal system as a whole were compromised with the appointment of a certain prosecutor, then the judge was under an ethical obligation to refrain from making such appointment. The Court stated further that, “This would be true even if the judge considered the attorney to be able to properly handle the competing interests.”[5]


[1] Wilson v. Wilson, C.A. No. 01A01-9704-CV-00152, 1998 Tenn. App. LEXIS 199, at *19-20 (Ct. App. Mar. 20, 1998)
[2] See Tenn.S.Ct.R. 10, Preamble
[3] See Tenn.S.Ct.R. 10, Canon 2.
[4] Wilson v. Wilson, C.A. No. 01A01-9704-CV-00152, 1998 Tenn. App. LEXIS 199, at *19-20 (Ct. App. Mar. 20, 1998)


    1. The Canons of Judicial Conduct Make No Distinction Between Judges Serving the Public’s Interest as General Sessions Court Judges or Criminal Court Judges

As the Supreme Court’s rules applicable to judges make no distinction between some of the rules applying to Courts of General Sessions and Circuit Courts or Criminal Courts, the reasoning of the Court of Appeals in Wilson should be applied by this Court when a party before the Court has made a motion for the District Attorney to be disqualified as Defendant Jones has made before this Court.

    1. The Legislature has Vested this Court with the Authority to Hear Misdemeanor Cases to a Finality, Giving this Court Authority to Disqualify

In the 1989 case of State v. Middlebrook,[6] the Court of Criminal Appeals said in dicta that ‘We have not been cited to any legal authority which would allow a local General Sessions judge to disqualify a district attorney general from prosecuting a felony case based on a state warrant or indictment,” which shows that the authority this Court has to declare a district attorney disqualified may hinge on the type of cases before the Court. Distinguishable from the felony offenses described in Middlebrook, the cases before this Court are misdemeanor offenses and as it concerns misdemeanor offenses, this Court has been given the authority by the legislature to be considered a trial court. 

In 1955 the legislature of the State of Tennessee with the passing of 1955 Tenn. Pub. Acts 267, § 4[7]gave Courts of General Sessions the ability to hear misdemeanor offenses and to dispose of those cases to their finality, provided that the General Sessions Courts when the lawmaking body codified into law T.C.A. § 40-1-109, which states:


“In addition to the jurisdiction in criminal cases as conferred in §§ 16-15-401 and 16-15-501, the court of general sessions is vested with jurisdiction to try and determine and render final judgment in all misdemeanor cases brought before the court by warrant or information where the person charged with the misdemeanor enters a plea of guilty in writing or requests a trial upon the merits and expressly waives an indictment, presentment, grand jury investigation and jury trial. The waiver shall be in writing as provided in Rule 5 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. In such cases, the trial shall proceed before the court without the intervention of a jury, and the court shall enter judgment, and, as an incident thereto, may inflict punishment within the limits provided by law for the particular offense as the court may determine proper under the peculiar circumstances of the case (emphasis added).[8]


[5] See Id.
[6] See State v. Middlebrook, 1989 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 64, at *12-13 (Crim. App. Jan. 31, 1989)
[7] See 1955 Tenn. Pub. Acts 267, § 4


Not even a year passed before the legislature’s promulgation of the authority vested in the General Sessions Courts was challenged in the 1956 case of State v. Simmons.[9] In Simmons, the defendant appealed a conviction rendered by the General Sessions Court of Rutherford County for the offense of driving under the influence and specifically challenged the newly created jurisdiction of the General Sessions Court by claiming that the authority given to the General Sessions Courts to dispose of a misdemeanor offense was in violation of his constitutional rights, specifically the rights pertaining to a trial by jury[10], the provisions that no person be put to answer any criminal charge except by presentment, indictment or impeachment,[11] and of the “nor of the law of the land provisions in the Constitution.[12]

The Court in Simmons was not convinced by those arguments and ruled that the General Sessions Court did in fact have the authority to dispose of misdemeanor offenses because the General Sessions judge first had to advise defendants of their rights and those rights had to be waived voluntarily by the defendant to allow the defendant to enter a plea of guilt or have a bench trial on the misdemeanor offenses.[13]

As it relates to the present case in State v. Jones, the Simmons case is important because in Simmons, the Supreme Court of Tennessee upheld the ability for a General Sessions Court to in fact be a “trial court” for misdemeanor offenses.

    1. The Clear and Plain Meaning of T.CA. 8-7-106 that allows a Court to Appoint a Prosecutor Pro Temp

[8] See T.C.A. § 40-1-109
[9] See State v. Simmons, 199 Tenn. 479, 287 S.W.2d 71 (1956)
[10] See Tenn. Const., art. I, § 6;
[11] See Tenn. Const., art. I, § 14
[12] See Tenn. Const., art. I, § 8
[13] See State v. Simmons, 199 Tenn. 479, 287 S.W.2d 71 (1956)


The power of a Court to appoint a prosecutor pro temp is also power given to the Courts by the legislature. In codifying T.C.A. 8-7-106, the legislature had the opportunity to specifically state that a General Sessions Court could not declare a prosecutor disqualified or that a General Sessions Court could not appoint a District Attorney General Pro Temp., however, that’s not the language that the legislature chose. As stated supra, in Section b, the legislature has defined when a General Sessions Court can in fact as a trial court over misdemeanor offenses.

The plain meaning in T.C.A. 8-7-106 should also be interpreted to include the General Sessions Court presiding over misdemeanor offenses.  The language of T.C.A. 8-7-106 states:

“If the district attorney general fails to attend the circuit or criminal court, or is disqualified from acting, or if there is a vacancy in the office, the court shall appoint some other attorney to supply such district attorney general’s place temporarily. [14]

Because the judicial canons make no distinction between judges of General Sessions Courts and judges of Circuit of Criminal Courts, this Court can rely on the judicial canons referred to by the Court of Appeals in Wilson that demand judges to promote the public confidence and integrity of our judicial system. Further, the legislature has vested General Sessions Courts with the authority to be trial courts over misdemeanor offenses as are before this Court. Lastly, as stated by Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It would be counter to the public policy of our state and the duties of incumbent upon the judiciary to allow someone such as Northcott to proceed as a special prosecutor at any stage of a judicial proceeding.

  1. WHEN PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL CONFLICTS OF A PROSECUTOR CHALLENGE THE PROSECUTOR’S ABILITY TO BE IMPARTIAL  AND WHEN THE PROSECUTOR’S CONDUCT ERODES THE INTEGRITY OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY SHALL BE  DISQUALIFIED.
    1. Northcott’s Characters and Behaviors Offend the Virtues Required in a District Attorney General 

In State v. Bryan, the Criminal Court of Appeals heard an interlocutory appeal from a case in Rutherford County where disqualification of a prosecutor was sought.[15] When analyzing the role of a prosecutor, the Criminal Court of Appeals made reference to the Tennessee Supreme Court’s previous discussions on the role that a District Attorney General has in society and on the need for the person in this role to be someone who is not persuaded by their individual passions, but who has the trust of the public and to be someone with integrity. Of the District Attorney General, the Court said:

“He is to judge between the people and the government; he is to be the safe-guard of the one and the advocate for the rights of the other; he ought not suffer the innocent to be oppressed or vexatiously harassed, any more than those who deserve prosecution to escape; he is to pursue guilt; he is to protect innocence; he is to judge of circumstances, and according to their true complexion, to com-bine the public welfare and the safety of the citizens, preserving both, and not impairing either; he is to decline the use of individual passions, and individ-ual malevolence, when he can not use them for the advantage of the public; he is to lay hold of them where public justice, in sound discretion, requires it…. Does every one feel the responsibility imposed by the oath of the solicitor-general by his selection for the discharge of these duties, by the confidence of the public reposed in him, by a consciousness of the impartial duties he owes to soci-ety and his country? Is every one actuated for the solicitor-general with the proud ambition of equaling [sic] the public expectation, and proving to his country that they have not been deceived in making choice of him? Is eve-ryone in his behalf under the full operation of those thousand feelings excited by confidence in his integrity, which a virtuous mind will experience, which nothing but experience can give a knowledge of, and which cannot be adequately repre-sented by words? [16]


[14] See T.C.A. 8-7-106(a)
[15] State v. Bryan, 990 S.W.2d 231, 1998 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 1080 (Tenn. Crim. App., 1998).
[16] See State v. Bryan, No. M1999-00854-CCA-R9-CD, 2000 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 605, at *1 (Crim. App. Aug. 4, 2000) quoting State v. Bryan Fout, 4 Tenn. (3 Hayw.) at 98, 99-100 (Tenn. 1816), quoted in Re Death of Reed, 770 S.W.2d. 557, 5670 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1696)(citations omitted)(emphasis added).
[17] Paul, Deana, June 5th, 2019 Washington Post “This Good Christian Prosecutor is Overlooking Domestic Violence Charges for Same Sex Couples”


The Amici herein posit to this Honorable Court that District Attorney General Northcott has made record of his intent to proceed in a judicial proceeding with his individual passions, religious beliefs or not, rather than a strict following of the laws of this state and the laws of our United States. [17] This alone should be grounds for his disqualification as not only has Northcottmade clear that he doesn’t agree with the laws of the United States, he has made it clear that he will not follow them. [18]

The Amici herein do represent the public of Nashville Davidson County, and their feelings towards Northcott are far from ones of being proud and the Amici have no confidence in Northcott’s own abilities to hold the position of special prosecutor as the Amici do not have confidence in Northcott’s ability to understand and act upon the impartial duties he owes society and our country. The Amici additionally believe the same could be said of the more than 300 plus attorneys who have asked the Board of Professional Responsibility to investigate Northcott. [19][20]

    1. Northcott cannot advocate for Casada’s interests as a victim of assault in prosecuting Jones and at the same time be impartial and unbiased in deciding whether Casada or his office should be prosecuted for criminal activity intended to victimize Jones, thus creating a conflict of interest

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has made clear that it would investigate the emails that were sent from Speaker Casada’s office to District Attorney General Glenn Funk’s office to determine whether Casada or someone working for Casada doctored the emails and committed a criminal offense. [21] However, Northcott has turned down the investigation of the T.B.I., when they would be the only body able to offer an independent and forensic analysis of whether there was indeed evidence tampering on behalf of Casada or his office, an offense that in Tennessee is a Class C Felony. [22] It is worth noting that when a police chief in his own district was accused of tampering with evidence, a special prosecutor was appointed and in that case, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was called on to investigate whether evidence tampering occurred.[23]

By not allowing the TBI to do their job, and by stating that he talked to people of the legislature and that he believes a spam filter is to blame, Northcott has made it virtually impossible for him to be able to advocate on behalf of victims in the assault cases and to also see whether Casada or Casada’s office committed the crime of evidence tampering.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/06/05/this-good-christian-prosecutor-is-overlooking-domestic-violence-charges-same-sex-couples/
[18] Palmer, Ewan, June 4th, 2019 Newsweek Magazine “Tennessee DA Northcott Says Domestic Violence Laws Do Not Apply to Gay People” https://www.newsweek.com/tennessee-da-craig-northcott-says-domestic-violence-laws-do-not-apply-gay-people-gets-slammed-1441992
[19] Golgowski, Nina, June 6th, 2019 Huffington Post “Tennessee DA Probed After Anti Muslim, Homophobic Comments,” https://www.huffpost.com/entry/coffee-county-craig-northcott-investigated_n_5d02810de4b0304a120bbf06
[20] Cawley, Alana, June 6th, 2019 Manchester Times “Attorneys Accuse DA Northcott of Highest Levels of Prosecutorial Misconduct, Ask for Investigation” https://www.manchestertimes.com/news/local/attorneys-accuse-da-northcott-of-highest-level-of-prosecutorial-misconduct/article_d7e1be04-887e-11e9-bf85-3f1962bb706a.html
[21] Williams, Phil, July 25, 2019, News Channel 5 “Special Prosecutor Sees No Crime in Casada Email Probe” https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/capitol-hill/special-prosecutor-sees-no-crime-in-casada-email-probe


    1. Northcott has preexisting relationship with TN’s legislature because of his time as a lobbyist, creating a conflict of interest

As raised in the motion to disqualify filed by counsel for Jones, Northcott’s preexisting relationship with the legislature because of the time that he served on the District Attorney General’s legislative committee should disqualify him as being a special prosecutor in this case. [24]

    1. Northcott depends on the Speaker’s office and the legislature to fund his own office as Prosecutor of Coffee County, creating a conflict of interest.

Another reason for Northcott to be disqualified because of the appearance of impropriety is that District Attorney Northcott has been tasked with investigating and prosecuting the very office, Office of the Speaker, that is responsible for funding his office as a District Attorney General.   

    1. With Northcott embattled in controversy, the only entity that can remove him from office (the Legislature) is the very entity he’s been tasked to investigate, creating a conflict of interest

The most glaring conflict in this case has to do with District Attorney Northcott being embattled in his own controversies and how, if at all, he would be removed from his position as a District Attorney. The Constitution of our State gives the power to remove a District Attorney to the legislature—the very body that in this case, Northcott is tasked to investigate. As political favors and party loyalty run amuck in the Casada speakership, now should be a time where for the sake of public integrity, an independent party is asked to investigate matters that look like they may be born from corruption or scandal, such as the email situation with Defendant Jones and Speaker Casada. As present, the Speaker’s office is being investigated by an individual (Northcott) who seeks to benefit from the Speaker’s office not moving for his own impeachment. The Supreme Court of Tennessee has recognized this to be the case in Ramsey v. Board of Prof. Resp.,771 S.W.2d 116 (Tenn. 1989). [25]


[22] See T.C.A. 39-16-503
[23] See https://tennesseestar.com/2019/04/24/tullahoma-police-chief-resigns-in-plea-deal-over-charge-of-tampering-with-evidence-from-sons-car-crash/
[24] See https://www.tullahomanews.com/news/local/court-motion-seeks-to-disqualify-northcott/article_ee05101e-aa4d-11e9-b955-4bae4027ff33.html
[25] See in Ramsey v. Board of Prof. Resp.,771 S.W.2d 116 (Tenn. 1989).
[26] See State v. Sisco, 2018 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 130


Ramsey involved the appeal of a District Attorney General whose law license had been suspended for 180 days by the Board of Professional Responsibility. Ramsey urged the Supreme Court to find that the Board and the trial court, which affirmed the suspension, had exceeded their jurisdiction and had violated the constitutional principle of separation of powers. Ramsey argued that under the Constitution of Tennessee, district attorneys could only be removed from office by the legislature and that by suspending him from the practice of law the Board unconstitutionally removed him from office. The Court agreed that only the legislature is empowered to remove a district attorney from office, but explained that a suspension of a law license is altogether different from impeachment. 

This alone should be enough to disqualify Northcott from being the special prosecutor over the Speaker’s office. It’s clear from what we know from Northcott thus far that he had communications with Casada. After all, he was a lobbyist for the legislature. Given the number of prosecutors that seek higher office, it would not be hard to imagine a situation where justice for Defendant Jones takes a back seat to the political aspirations and Republican party loyalties of Northcott and Casada and for the two to essentially agree not to hold the other accountable (The Speaker’s office won’t investigate Northcott and Northcott will publicly say the email spam filter is real and what caused the date changed on the email from Jones).

    1. This Court is required to analyze not just the conflicts of Northcott, but the appearances of impropriety in this case

The Supreme Court of TN has made it clear that even when conflicts alone do not disqualify a District Attorney (although the amici believe that they do) the Court must also look to identity whether disqualification should occur because of the appearance of impropriety. As quoted in State v. Cisco[26],

“In determining whether to disqualify an attorney in a criminal case, the trial court must first determine whether the party questioning the propriety of the rep-resentation met [*28] its burden of showing that there is an actual conflict of in-terest.” State v. White, 114 S.W.3d 469, 476 (Tenn. 2003). However, even if the party questioning the propriety of the representation fails to prove that there is an actual conflict of interest, disqualification can also be based on the appearance of impropriety. State v. Culbreath, 30 S.W.3d 309, 313 (Tenn. 2000)(emphasis added).

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, the Motion to declare District Attorney Northcott disqualified and removed from the prosecution of this case should be granted.

Respectfully submitted,

KEVIN W. TEETS JR.
LAW OFFICE OF KEVIN TEETS
P.O. BOX 60121
NASHVILLE, TN 37206
(615) 933-8230
COUNSEL FOR AMICI CURIAE

SUNNY EATON
EASTSIDE LEGAL
731 PORTER RD.
NASHVILLE, TN 37206
(615) 600-4577
COUNSEL FOR AMICI CURIAE

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

We hereby certify that a true and exact copy of the foregoing has been sent to the Attorney for the Defendant, via email, and the District Attorney General Pro Temp in this case, also via email,  on this the _______ day of ___________, 2019.

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