Judge barred from hearing lawyer wife’s cases

Montgomery County General Sessions Judge Ray Grimes has been ordered to stop hearing any cases brought before him by his wife, Clarksville attorney Sharon Massey, reports the Leaf-Chronicle.

A cease-and-desist order from the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct was filed Monday with the clerk of the courts in Nashville, in which Grimes agreed that “He shall not participate in any proceeding in which his spouse is acting as a lawyer and shall disqualify himself from any such proceeding.”

Grimes signed off on the order dated Dec. 29.

An accompanying letter to Grimes, dated Jan. 4, explained that it is “a letter of public reprimand pursuant to your agreement with the investigative panel of the board.”

It states that the reprimand relates to the fact Grimes “disposed of numerous cases which came before you as a General Sessions judge of Montgomery County, Tennessee, in which criminal and juvenile defendants in the cases were represented by your spouse, who is an attorney practicing in Montgomery County, Tennessee.”

On July 12, The Leaf-Chronicle published a report that Massey, who had applied to fill a new Circuit Court judgeship, had brought at least 85 cases before Grimes since 2008.

…Massey responded: “Never in the 16 years we’ve been married, have I ever tried a case in front of him. He has never made a decision on one of my cases.”

Both she and the judge claimed that all of the cases were settlements or plea bargains that were reached outside of court, and Massey brought them to her husband to sign off on, a formality of the process.