Speaker Harwell files BPR complaint
by By DAVID DAVIS Managing Editor
Aug 23, 2013 | 1592 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Targets DA Steve Bebb
Steve Bebb
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Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell has submitted a complaint to the Board of Professional Responsibility against 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steven Bebb.

Bebb said this morning this is the first complaint filed against him that he is aware of since he entered the legal profession in 1974.

“And for this one to be filed by someone from Nashville or wherever they’re from is illogical,” he said. “I think they all ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

A statement released from Harwell’s office late Thursday said her decision was “based on the recommendation of the House panel she appointed to review the TBI files, the Tennessee Attorney General’s report, and other accounts the panel found were relevant to these matters. The bipartisan panel, consisting of three Democrats and three Republicans, having reviewed the information as directed, has recommended that certain allegations warrant continued review.”

Continuing, the statement said that attorneys licensed to practice law in the state of Tennessee are bound to follow specific and comprehensive ethical rules governing their conduct.

“These rules are to ensure ethical conduct, maintain the public’s trust, and the integrity of our judicial system,” the statement cited. “The Board of Professional Responsibility is charged, by statute, with the duty to investigate all allegations of unethical conduct by attorneys. The board was created and funded to be investigators and staff attorneys who are experts in the field of ethical behavior by attorneys. The next appropriate step in this process has been to report the allegations to the Board of Professional Responsibility for a thorough, prompt investigation and appropriate action.

“After reviewing the findings and actions of the Board of Professional Responsibility, the 108th General Assembly will then take such actions as they feel are warranted and necessary to restore the public trust in the 10th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office,” the statement concluded.

The House Judicial Oversight Committee, chaired by state Rep. Tony Shipley, was tasked by Harwell with the responsibility of looking into the issues recommended Aug. 14 that a charging committee be formed.

In a short, one-paragraph note to Harwell, Shipley wrote, “Having completed the review of the TBI files, other sources of information and interviewing witnesses, we have voted in the aggregate and determined that we do have cause to move forward. We recommend the appointment of the charging committee.”

A charging committee cannot be appointed until after the next session opens in January 2014.

Shipley said in an Aug. 14 interview that the charging committee will be responsible for actually presenting the charging resolution to the floor.

“This doesn’t imply anything except what the letter said,” Shipley stressed. “We recommend that you move forward with the investigation as we have determined there is sufficient justification to do so. Nothing has been implied or suggested otherwise.”

The Senate is pursuing the same route as the House.