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LaFollette city judge arrested

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By Susan Sharp

An attorney who also serves as a traffic court judge has been arrested for driving offenses.

Wes Hatmaker, a long time Jacksboro attorney, was arrested last Wednesday by Jacksboro Police Officer Keith Ducharme.

Ducharme stopped Hatmaker on Main Street in Jacksboro just after 8 p.m.

“He crossed the double yellow line twice,” Ducharme said of his reason for stopping Hatmaker. When asked about this Hatmaker allegedly said “he was reaching for his phone,” the officer said.

 Hatmaker was unable to provide the officer with either a driver’s license or proof of insurance instead presenting the officer with an ID Only Tennessee card, the report said. Ducharme then ran a check on Hatmaker’s driver’s license status, the report said.

The information that came back indicated Hatmaker’s driver’s license had been suspended since 1998 for failure to  pay a traffic ticket in Alabama, Ducharme said.

Hatmaker allegedly told the officer he was aware of the suspension.

Aside from being a practicing attorney, Hatmaker is also the city of LaFollette traffic court judge.

On Tuesday, LaFollette Mayor Mike Stanfield said Hatmaker had not contacted him regarding the arrest. His continuing on as the traffic court judge “would be up to the council. Its their discretion,” Stanfield said. Hatmaker currently holds court twice a month being paid $900 for his services.

The conduct of attorneys is overseen by the Board of Professional Responsibility.

Hatmaker, whose law license is in good standing, will probably not face any professional ramifications for the arrest, according  to Preston Shipp, disciplinary counsel for the Board of Professional Responsibility.

“I doubt we would even take much of a look at that,” Shipp said of Hatmaker’s arrest. Disciplinary action by the board usually pertains to rules of professional conduct being violated, Shipp said.

Given that Hatmaker is also employed as a city judge the Board of Judicial Conduct could elect to investigate the manner.

“Either on a complaint or on our own we could look into it,” said David Haynes of the Board of Judicial Conduct. However, he believed that city judges are not subject the same scrutiny as full- time judges.

The appointing authority would probably be the body to determine if Hatmaker will continue as the city’s traffic judge.

While Hatmaker could have been issued a citation for the alleged offenses, Ducharme said his failure to pay the Alabama ticket didn’t work in his favor.

“I didn’t think he would pay one here,” the officer said.