Session Date February 25, 2015
Direct Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Shelby County No. S9206 Curtis S. Person, Jr., Judge
Andre C. Wharton and Alexander Wharton, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joesph Brown.
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter, Andree S. Blumstein, Solicitor General and Kathryn A. Baker, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Brandon O. Gibson, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Arnold B. Goldin, J., joined.
BRANDON O. GIBSON, JUDGE
I. Facts & Procedural History
The basis of this appeal is a finding of contempt made on March 24, 2014, by Shelby County Juvenile Court Magistrate Harold Horne. On that date, a litigant appeared pro se for a hearing before Magistrate Horne. Magistrate Horne determined that no notice of the hearing had been provided to the opposing party or counsel and therefore continued the hearing for one month. Later that same day, attorney and former judge Joseph Brown appeared before Magistrate Horne and addressed the court on behalf of the aforementioned litigant. At the outset, Mr. Brown indicated his awareness that the hearing had already been continued until a later date. Nevertheless, Mr. Brown insisted that the case against the litigant should be "dismissed flat out" due to deficiencies he perceived in the record, and he claimed that notice to the opposing party was not necessary prior to dismissal. Magistrate Horne reiterated that the matter would be resolved at the April 24 hearing. The following exchange ensued:
MR. BROWN: If it pleases the tribunal, I will file a Petition for Habeas Corpus and close this place down like I did before if you make her come back here one more time.
THE COURT: Mr. Brown, you are very close to finding yourself in contempt.
MR. BROWN: Excuse me, on what authority do you sit by the way?
As a former judge here, we have a rule in the Thirtieth Judicial District. It says every single Magistrate Referee has to be unanimously approved by every Circuit, Chancery, and Criminal Court Judge. I don't recall that your name's ever been submitted, sir.
This tribunal on a General Sessions Court's authority is insufficient to establish you. Therefore I challenge your authority to hear it.
And by the way, what is that, Magistrate, sir, with due respect.
THE COURT: Mr. Brown, the Court finds you in contempt.
MR. BROWN: Here's ten dollars. That's all you've got on me.
THE COURT: I sentence you to twenty-four day -- for twenty-four hours in the Shelby County jail.
MR. BROWN: You're out of it. The maximum---
THE COURT: You may have a seat.
MR. BROWN: I'm not. Ten dollars. That's all you've got. Twenty. Take the two.
THE COURT: Get the bailiffs.
MR. BROWN: Go find the law or I'm reporting you to the Court of Judiciary. I'll have you charged with violation of process. Now you want to get into this, let's get into it. This sorry operation needs to stop.
THE COURT: Twenty-four hours in the Shelby County jail for contempt. You may have a seat.
MR. BROWN: Excuse me.
THE COURT: Do you wish to have another twenty-four hours?
MR. BROWN: If you try to do this you need to straighten yourself up and you cite your authority.
THE COURT: Do you wish to have a second day, Mr. Brown?
MR. BROWN: What did you say?
THE COURT: Do you wish to have a second day?
MR. BROWN: A second date?
THE COURT: Day.
MR. BROWN: Day?
THE COURT: Yes, sir.
MR. BROWN: I tell you what. You cite the authority. You find it. I looked it up before I came in here. You have ten dollars maximum contempt ...