Governor's Judge Pick Has History of 'Very Serious Misconduct' - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

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Governor's Judge Pick Has History of 'Very Serious Misconduct'

(Story created: 9/11/03)

Gov. Phil Bredesen recently appointed a former prosecutor to serve as a temporary Criminal Court judge. The governor praised John Roberts' vast experience. But Roberts had a little experience that the governor didn't talk about.

Bredesen's appointment was prompted by a court battle being fought over who won a recent election in the Cookeville area.

But, instead of tapping a retired judge to fill in, the governor picked a political supporter whose most recent experience was heading a local Chamber of Commerce.

The governor's announcement noted that John Roberts, a former DA, is a former U.S. Attorney for Middle Tennessee.

He praised Roberts' "outstanding qualifications" and claimed that he will "enjoy the confidence of the lawyers in the district."

But as I first revealed a while back, Roberts was essentially forced out as U.S. Attorney.

An internal Justice Department report details what it calls "deplorable" efforts by Roberts to interfere in a death investigation.

A detective had concluded that the death was a suicide.

But Roberts supposedly wanted that conclusion changed so that the widow, a friend of his, could receive her husband's life insurance.

The Justice Department's inspector general concluded:

"Roberts' actions -- the use of his status and position as the United States Attorney ... to influence the findings of the ... investigation -- constitute very serious misconduct."

Making matters worse, the report found that Roberts then tried to mislead investigators about what he'd done.

Roberts has always denied any wrongdoing.

Still, even if "Judge" Roberts now has the governor's confidence, there are some law enforcement officials who just don't share that view.

Read the governor's news release
Read the inspector general's report

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