Dickson judge accused of misconduct speaks out

Reese Holley
Judge Reese Holley

DICKSON, Tenn. (WKRN) – A heated judicial squabble between a public defender and a city judge escalated Thursday evening with more motions and more fiery rhetoric. Now the judge accused of judicial misconduct is speaking out.

Tough words and legal motions have been flying for months between Dickson city judge Reese Holley and the public defender for the 23rd judicial district Jake Locker.

On Thursday, Holley spoke with News 2 for the for the first time.

“I do think I am a good judge. I think I am a fair judge,” he said.

“It’s hard because you are hamstrung in this position not being able to say some of the things you want to say. Like I said, I don’t think I can talk about any of the allegations,” Holley continued.

Locker accused the judge of retaliation and not appointing the public defender to citizens who qualify. On Thursday morning, he filed a motion that accused Holley of retaliation because the public defender’s office has prompted an investigation into the judge’s actions.

According to Locker, the judge has not assigned a single defendant to be represented by the public defender’s office in the past two weeks.

“Oh, it has never been done before. It is extremely unusual. We have been there in court, ready willing and able to take the cases and simply were not appointed on those cases. If this practice continues it will easily be hundreds each month,” explained Locker.

He went on to say that Holley was supposed to rule promptly on a motion for the judge to recuse himself from cases handled by the public defender.

Locker  told News 2 his motion was on the docket Tuesday and everyone knew it, but the judge who ignored him.

“It certainly appears I was being hung out to dry on Tuesday,” said Locker.

Holley had a different view on the situation.

“I think there was some miscommunication there. Again, I didn’t realize it was on the docket. He’d been in court before. It was not uncommon for him to be in court. It was handwritten on the docket. That is what one of the clerks told me. I didn’t even go back and look at it. Again, there was just some confusion,” stated Holley.

On Friday, Judge Holley denied the motion to recuse himself from all cases handled by the public defender’s office.

He wrote, “However, the court will consider and promptly rule on any recusal motion brought on an individual case basis. The clerk is hereby directed to continue to appoint the public defender’s office to all indigent cases pending further orders of this court.”

Lockert told News 2 he’s pleased his office will again be representing indigent clients.

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