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Protester won't face trial for tossing cup at Casada

Posted: 10:32 AM, Nov 14, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-14 11:32:15-05
Justin Jones

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A student activist, charged with assault for tossing a paper cup with liquid onto an elevator with then-House Speaker Glen Casada and other Republican lawmakers, won't face trial.

Under a deal signed Thursday by General Sessions Judge William Higgins, assault and disorderly conduct charges against Justin Jones will be retired until April 22. The charges can then be dismissed.

The agreement, received between Jones' attorney Nick Leonardo and DA Craig Northcott, provides the following:

  • Jones must stay away the Cordell Hull State Office Building where legislative offices and hearing rooms are located.
  • He "shall have no contact, accidental or otherwise," with Casada or Rep. Debra Moody, who was also on the elevator with Casada.
  • Jones "agrees that he will follow all rules while in the Tennessee State Capitol."
  • He is "not to be re-arrested during this retirement period and shall maintain good and lawful behavior."

Jones, a Vanderbilt divinity student, was arrested in February during a student protest over Republican policies in the legislature.

In May, NewsChannel 5 Investigates raised questions about questionable efforts by Casada and aide Cade Cothren Cothren to get Jones' bond revoked. That investigation also revealed racist text messages exchanged by the two men.

The state appointed Northcott as special prosecutor, leading to an unsuccessful effort by Jones' lawyer to get the prosecutor removed from the case for his own controversial views.

In recent weeks, Leonardo got a court order requiring Casada, Moody and Cothren to testify in a preliminary hearing that had been scheduled Thursday.

The agreement comes as Jones prepares to launch a primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee, for his seat in Congress.