Dumas Loses Fight to Limit Evidence for Ethics Trial - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: General Sessions Court

Dumas Loses Fight to Limit Evidence for Ethics Trial

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Judge Gloria Dumas Judge Gloria Dumas
Bill Cantrell, Lawyer for Judge Dumas Bill Cantrell, Lawyer for Judge Dumas
Steve Daniel, Disciplinary Counsel Steve Daniel, Disciplinary Counsel
Judge Dumas and her daughter Judge Dumas and her daughter
Bill Farmer, Lawyer for Judge Dumas Bill Farmer, Lawyer for Judge Dumas

By Phil Williams
Chief Investigative Reporter

Nashville Judge Gloria Dumas is preparing to fight when she faces a rare ethics trial before a court of fellow judges.

On Wednesday, her lawyers tried unsuccessfully to limit the evidence being gathered for that trial.

The misconduct charges stem from an exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation.

While Dumas carried on with business as usual in her own courtroom, attorneys for the court that regulates Tennessee judges sparred with Dumas' own lawyers over evidence for her upcoming ethics trial.

"Judge Dumas is entitled to be treated like any other litigant in a civil procedure," one of her lawyers, Bill Farmer, argued in a hearing before Judge Don Ash, presiding judge for the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary.

The charges were prompted by our NewsChannel 5 investigation that caught Dumas repeatedly showing up for work late, using defense attorneys to hear her cases for her, even hiring her own daughter in violation of nepotism rules.

"Was she given a chance to settle this quietly?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked her lead attorney, retired appellate judge Ben Cantrell.

"I don't know what you would call quietly," Cantrell answered, "and I can't tell you anything about that."

In November 2008, Dumas admitted to us that she has sometimes been late to court.

"I'm not going to tell you I don't have issues with being late. I'm not going to tell you I haven't all my life had issues with being late," she said.

She also acknowledged hiring her daughter as a court officer.

"And what made you think that she could do the job?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.

"'Cause she's very smart," Dumas said.

Still, her attorneys have even balked at answering basic evidentiary requests, such as one to "produce any documents identifying you as a judge."

"So is that a burden to answer that?" Ash asked Cantrell.

"It is a burden to answer it, yes," the lawyer responded.

The Court of the Judiciary's disciplinary counsel, Steve Daniel, said: "There has been no response to the discovery request, and we've got a trial in less than 45 days."

In the end, Ash ordered Dumas to produce most of what was being requested.

"Sure, we'd love to settle it without having to go through a trial," Cantrell said after the hearing, but he still wasn't ready to concede.

"Would you be willing to accept some sort of reprimand?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.

I don't know," Cantrell answered. "I'd have to ask her."

"Have you asked her?" we wanted to know.

"No," the lawyer said.

In two other cases, judges who were the subject of our investigations did negotiate private reprimands that they later volunteered to make public.

In fact, standard procedure is that Judge Dumas also would have been offered a chance to settle before it headed to trial.

Right now, her trial is set for April.

The Court of the Judiciary could impose some sort of reprimand or, worst case, recommend to the legislature that she be impeached.

E-mail: pwilliams@newschannel5.com

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