Judge gets reprimand partly for this Facebook advice to shoplifters: To avoid arrests, don’t sport green hair

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A judge in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has received a public reprimand partly for his tongue-in-cheek online advice on how to avoid arrests.

Judge Gerald Webb of the General Sessions Court accepted the reprimand, according to a Nov. 5 letter imposing the punishment by the State of Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct. has coverage.

The reprimand letter cited these social media posts:

• In a June Facebook post, Webb told would-be shoplifters that “stealth is key,” and they should blend in with their surroundings. He offered this example: “You and your 5’10” sister walk in [Walmart] with green hair and green toenails and green flip-flops that smack the back of your feet with every step you make, and you don’t blend in and you are caught with three steaks shoved into your pants. You forgot to be stealth.”

• In an August Facebook post, Webb wrote, “Remember, people, the goal of criminal and bad behavior is to get away with it.” He offered an example of two women arguing outside the courthouse, with one screaming out, “B- - - -, what’s hood!” He went on to advise, “Screaming and cursing and fighting in front of police officers 10 out of 10 times is detrimental” to your freedom.

• In an August 2020 online media post, Webb wrote that it is “downright damn humiliating when [police are] pulling crack from your crack! Find someplace else to hide your stash.”

Webb told the commission that his online posts were “designed to get a laugh and to make people think about life choices.”

Regardless of motivation, the commission said in its letter, it is neither dignified nor appropriate for a judge—particularly a judge who hears criminal cases—to provide such advice.

The reprimand letter also cited Webb’s failure to comply with continuing legal education requirements, which resulted in the brief suspension of his law license in August 2020 and August 2021.

After the Chattanooga Times Free Press wrote about the second suspension, Webb wrote on Facebook, “Well damn! Give me a black hat and a black horse and call me a desperado, I feel like I was in Just Busted,” according to

The reprimand letter said the suspension required other judges to fill in for Webb.

“It is incumbent upon judges to comply with all requirements necessary to maintain an active law license in order to properly conduct judicial business,” the letter said.

In mitigation, Webb took responsibility for his conduct, cooperated with disciplinary counsel and has no record of prior disciplinary action since becoming a judge.

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