Judge Amanda Sammons of Campbell County, Tennessee has a strict rule that if defendants don’t arrive at court before 9 am, or 1 pm for her afternoon session, they can’t come in! When she first started this practice she instructed the court bailiffs to lock the doors. Later she agreed the doors could remain unlocked, but no one could enter after the prescribed court commencement times.
More than a few people have been caught by her rule, which is antithetical to the concept of open courtrooms and transparent justice.
Case in point: Suzanne Webb, age 39, arrived at the courthouse at about 1 minute to nine for a hearing in a misdemeanour vandalism case. She was barred from entry and waited in the hallway. Once the doors were opened she entered, took a seat, and read a book until her name was called. Judge Sammons asked her why she was late. She replied that she was not permitted to enter, whereupon Judge Sammons said, “That’s no excuse. You’re going to jail, you violated your bond.”
Ms. Webb was handcuffed and led to the jail holding area adjacent to the courtroom. Her only previous charge was for driving with a suspended license, a charge that was dropped after she paid an outstanding ticket. She remained in custody waiting for her aunt to bring her the funds to pay the new bond, and then was released.
A few months later she was back in court where the vandalism charges were dropped in exchange for the forfeiture of her $424.00 bond. Coincidentally, the fine for a vandalism conviction? $424.00!
Other “victims” of Judge Sammons include Ryan Daniel Currier who was held without bond for 24 hours and Laura Hatfield who was ordered to post $15,000. One unlucky lady was arrested on a bench warrant, and Jason Inman was ordered held pending his posting of a $75,000 bond.
Not surprisingly, Judge Sammons, whose nickname is “the blue-eyed assassin”, is not a stranger to controversy. She has been accused of refusing to sign orders for accused persons who are entitled to have their records expunged, and ordering children into foster care in the absence of any request from the Department of Child Services.
Formerly a kick-ass prosecutor, Judge Sammons’ election website says:
“With a low tolerance for foolishness, Mandy’s tough approach to prosecuting crime has earned her a reputation as hard-nosed prosecutor who “goes for the jugular” and doesn’t quickly back down from a fight.”
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang