TBI helping with case of Hawkins County circuit court clerk jail

TBI helping with case of Hawkins County circuit court clerk jailed on contempt charge

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Circuit Court Clerk Sarah Davis (Source: Facebook) Circuit Court Clerk Sarah Davis (Source: Facebook)
HAWKINS COUNTY, TN (WJHL) - The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is now helping look into the circumstances surrounding a Hawkins County judge's decision to hold the circuit court clerk in contempt and send her to jail after she allegedly disobeyed his orders.

Judge J. Todd Ross issued a bench warrant against Circuit Court Clerk Sarah Davis last month, accusing her of defying his order to send one of her employees into the courtroom.

According to court documents, on the day in question, Judge Ross instructed Davis to send the cost collection clerk into the courtroom at least three times, but Davis said "No." The judge said that employee's absence delayed court proceedings that morning because there was no one in the courtroom who could work with defendants to come up with payment plans for the payment of court costs and fines.

According to court documents, Davis told the judge, "You can't hold me in contempt!"

Judge Ross said Davis' actions demeaned the dignity of the court.

"Just as the defendant has sworn an oath to uphold her duties as Clerk, the Court has also taken an oath to uphold the dignity and integrity of this Court," Judge Ross said in the bench warrant. "To allow an elected official, whose sworn duty is to serve this Court, to repeatedly disobey direct orders of this Court and to do so before her entire staff of deputy clerk's and in such a rude and disrespectful manner, without cause or justification, would only further demean the dignity of this court."

To avoid any conflict of interest, Sullivan County District Attorney Barry Staubus has agreed to step in as the prosecutor in the case. He has since asked the TBI for its help.

"DAG Barry Staubus request TBI to assist in investigating the circumstances," TBI spokesperson Illana Tate said.

Davis' trial date is set for March 27th.

Judge Ross has asked the Administrative Office of the Courts to provide an unbiased judge to hear the case. He wants to clarify the TBI has no separate investigation into this case. Instead, the judge says TBI is only involved in getting statements from witnesses to assist in the prosecution of Davis.

According to Davis, she can't comment about the case.

"I will be able to tell my side of the story in open court under oath," Davis said. "I would never just be rude to a judge. I did my job and I will have my court date."

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