Appeals court judge arrested on DUI charges - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Appeals court judge arrested on DUI charges

Judge Jerry L. Smith Judge Jerry L. Smith

A Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals judge, who works in Nashville, was arrested Monday night on driving under the influence charges in Knoxville.

Officers said they spotted Judge Jerry L. Smith driving a car that had its trunk open with luggage about to fall out.

When officers pulled Smith over, they said he smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and couldn't perform a sobriety test.

Smith was appointed in 1995 to the Court of Criminal Appeals. Before that, he worked as the deputy state attorney general.

As a criminal court of appeals judge, Smith could very likely hear appeal cases involving DUIs, and for that reason alone some judicial reformists say Judge Smith should step down.

"The prosecutor is very conflicted in this case. He has got to prosecute other DUI cases that could be appealed to his very courtroom," said Janice Johnson, a judicial reformist and lobbyist.

But the Tennessee Supreme Court told Channel 4 that even if convicted, Judge Smith would still be allowed to hear cases.

Any judge convicted of any misdemeanor in Tennessee is not barred in any way.

Janice Johnson says Judge Smith should be removed by the one entity in Tennessee that has the power to do so.

"A DUI is minor, however, judges should be held to a higher standard. The question is who holds them to a higher standard. And the answer is our legislature is supposed to hold them to a higher standard," Johnson said. "The problem is our legislature does not have the political will to do so."

It should be noted that the Tennessee legislature hasn't removed a judge in 18 years, and it is an action that almost never happens.

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