Legal Ethics

Judge Accused of Keeping Money Raised for Courthouse Ten Commandments Display

A beleaguered Tennessee judge is facing an ethics complaint alleging he kept money he collected for a Ten Commandments display and billed the state for attorney work in cases he judged.

Judge James “Jay” Taylor of Hawkins County was accused in a complaint (PDF) filed Tuesday by the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary, reports. He denied the allegations in a statement provided to publication. “I intend to work with the Court of Judiciary to clear my good name,” he said. “I ask for everyone’s continued support, and prayers for me and my family.”

The complaint alleged Taylor collected money for a “Citizens’ Heritage Display” to be placed in the courthouse lobby and converted the funds to his own use. The display was supposed to include the Ten Commandments, according to Taylor says he turned over the money to a member of the American Legion.

The complaint also alleged that Taylor filed claims for appointed counsel work in cases in which he acted as a judge and in cases for which he did not perform any work.

Taylor is also facing a criminal investigation launched when a county commissioner alleged he was offered a substantial amount of money to vote for Taylor’s appointment as a sessions judge, says.

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