(Memphis) The first hearing in the Judge Joe Brown case began Friday morning.
Brown is charged with criminal contempt after an outburst in a juvenile court room in March.
After finding that Brown was indeed in contempt, Nashville Senior Judge Paul Summers sent the case to the Tennessee Court of Appeals in Jackson.
Judge Summers began the hearing with explaining how he knows everyone involved and then went into the timeline of events.
“I intentionally set the hearing today,” Summer said. “Anytime it’s contempt, by state law, it ought to be done as quickly as it can.”
He then posed the issue of whether the appeal of contempt charge was improperly filed in criminal court instead of appellate court.
As Brown’s attorneys argued for the appeal, Judge Summers at one pointed retorted, “Sounds to me like you’re wanting to have an extra charge lodged against your client.”
Brown’s attorney assured the judge that was not what he was doing.
He then went on to say there is the potential of a biased court, and that there is the appearance of impartiality versus actual impartiality, and that this case would be the former.
Brown’s attorney then asked the judge to dismiss the contempt matter because of inadequacies and flaws in future proceedings.
Judge Summers later went on to lay out the court’s findings.
In summary: Based on the facts of March 24 set out in the record, this was a direct summary contempt in the presence of the court that was of the nature of a contempt against the system…willful misbehavior of any person in the presence of the court or so near to as to obstruct the administration of justice.
There are two types of direct summary contempt: the first involves disrespecting the court system, and the second involves disrespect of the judge.
In the former, the person in contempt can be tried right there summarily – no hearing, no notice.
In the latter, the judge is disqualified from making that decision and gives notice of a subsequent hearing by another judge who wasn’t there. The reason the judge would disqualified is he or she would basically be prosecutor and witness.
Judge Summers said that, in this court’s opinion, that former is what occurred.
“You can’t buy this kind of PR. The court is acting as it should,” said Brown.
Brown spoke at his own hearing, and accused the Juvenile Courts of editing the audio tape from the proceeding claiming it was retaliation for his previous fights with the system over decades ago.
On Tuesday, Brown’s lawyers, Andre and Alexander Wharton, who are sons of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, filed motions for another delay, saying there are errors in court documents.
WREG obtained a full list of the ten people subpoenaed for Friday’s hearing.