Former Hawkins County Judge James F. Taylor pled guilty today to stealing from Hawkins County clients in his private practice, as well as misuse of contributions he gathered for the purpose of installing a historical documents display in the new Justice Center that included the Ten Commandments.
His plea comes in connection with a plea entered in Davidson County on Sept. 20 to charges of theft from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) by forging documents to support false billings for legal work he did not perform.
Today in Hawkins County, he received two three-year sentences, which will run concurrently and require him to serve one year in jail, and the remaining two years on probation. This sentence will run consecutively with the sentence that he received in Davidson County for which Taylor will serve three years. As a result of today's plea, Taylor's effective sentence for his crimes in Davidson and Hawkins Counties requires him to serve four years.
In addition, Taylor will also serve a total of 12 years of supervised probation and must pay $71,783 to his Hawkins County victims in addition to $32,757 he owes AOC for a total of $104,540. Taylor was indicted on 41 counts of theft from the AOC earlier this year. He has also agreed he will not seek reinstatement of his law license until his probation ends in 2028.
The charges follow a joint investigation by the Tennessee Attorney General's Office and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) in addition to work by the Hawkins County and Davidson County District Attorneys.
"Tennesseans should have trust in their judicial system," Attorney General Bob Cooper said. "We intend to hold fully responsible any member of the legal profession who would steal funds from clients in addition to stealing from public funds intended for those who cannot afford a lawyer."
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn added, "When an individual in a position of authority takes advantage of someone who trusts them, they should be held accountable for their actions. Corruption and misconduct have no place in Tennessee's judicial process. I am hopeful that the victims of this case receive the restitution ordered and feel justice has been served."