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Eleven years later…

A circuit judge in Tennessee has been given a public reprimand by that state’s judicial ethics authorities for taking almost 11 years to issue a decision.

Eleven years. Talk about task avoidance.

The judge is Judge F. Lee Russell, who sits in Shelbyville, which is located between Nashville and Chattanooga. On Nov. 12, 1999, he tried a case filed by a man named David Reha against Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Co. The judge took the case under advisement. A very long advisement.

In March 2003, the lawyer for Mr. Reha filed a motion to ascertain the status of the case. Why it took the lawyer three and half years to ask is another question, but nothing happened on the judge’s end.

Six and half years go by. In August 2009, counsel for Mr. Reha again asks for a status check. The judge promises a decision within a month. You know what happened to that one.

Finally, on Oct. 12 of this year – 10 years and 11 months later – the judge issues a decision and order, after Reha filed a complaint with the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary, the body that investigates judicial ethics violations and delivers discipline.

Russell violated a canon requiring a judge “to dispose of all matters promptly, efficiently and fairly,” understated the letter from the Court of the Judiciary.

Other than to note that the judge answered the complaint promptly and accepted responsibility for the delay, the letter provides no further detail and no explanation.

Think Mr. Reha was satisfied with that result?

One comment

  1. Did Mr. Reha’s client win or lose? It is often thought imprudent to press a slow judge for fear of the “You want a quick decision? Ok, you lose” potential.

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