An embattled Campbell County judge was indicted Wednesday on four felony charges and suspended from the bench.
First-term General Sessions Court Judge Amanda Sammons was indicted by the grand jury on four counts of official misconduct in connection to her handling of two cases in which she has been accused of lying and overstepping her bounds. Following the indictment, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct issued a temporary suspension order prohibiting Sammons from performing any judicial functions.
She was expected to be booked on the charges Thursday morning and will be arraigned next Thursday August 18th before Senior Judge Paul Summers, who was appointed after Sammons’ fellow judge Shayne Sexton recused himself from the case.
Her attorney issued a statement asserting her innocence.
Sammons was indicted on two counts of official misconduct in her handling of the case of Krista Smith, a woman arrested by a Caryville police officer on a child neglect charge in January after he reported her children were not properly restrained. While Smith was in custody, Sammons called the jail and ordered jailers to upgrade the charge against Smith to aggravated child abuse, a far more serious crime. Sammons, both in open court and in a written order, said that she had never ordered the charge, claiming instead that she had mixed up the Smith case with another case and increased the woman’s bond. Jailers responded by hiring an attorney and indicated they would testify that the judge was lying. Eventually, Sammons then altered a record of the bond increase by crossing it out with a pen.
Attorney Kristie Anderson later represented Smith at no charge and asked that Sammons step down from the case, which the judge refused to do. Eventually, Judge Sexton removed Sammons from the case and earlier this year, Smith pleaded guilty to traffic charges of failing to buckle up her children and was fined $30.
Anderson and a client of hers in a divorce case were identified as the victims of the other two counts of official misconduct. In that case, Sammons issued a show-cause order for contempt of court in September of 2014 against Anderson and her client after they did not show up for a hearing. Anderson said she was never made aware of the hearing. During a hearing on the order, Sammons at first testified she had issued the order at the request of opposing counsel but that attorney denied that assertion. Later, while under oath, Sammons did admit she had issued the order on her own.
Sammons is also the subject of an investigation into ethics complaints.
With Sammons sidelined, General Session Court in Campbell County will be handled by committee until such time as the Tennessee Supreme Court appoints a special judge who will serve until the Campbell County Commission chooses a replacement. Those moves will become moot though if Sammons is exonerated or the charges dropped.