Last night (6/3), Nashville News Channel 5 released a video of Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott speaking at a conference for Dean Bible Ministries. In the video, Northcott shared his policy on charging domestic violence crimes. He told the crowd that domestic violence laws exist to “protect the sanctity of marriage”, and he would not prosecute domestic violence claims brought by gay citizens. Phil Williams. Tennessee prosecutor: Gay People not entitled to domestic violence protections, News Channel 5 (June 3 2019).

This is a retrofitting of his own religious beliefs into our secular law so that he might be, in his own words, a “minister of the Gospel” through his office. Even a layperson can see this policy misrepresents our legislator’s intent and the plain reading of Tennessee’s domestic violence statute, which punishes assaults on cohabitants regardless of marital status. T.C.A. § 39-13-111 (a)(2).

I would remind Mr. Northcott that the obligation of his office is not minister the Gospel, but to serve as a “minister of justice” who makes charging decisions “…without discrimination or bias for or against any groups or individuals.” See Tennessee Rule of Professional Conduct 3.8, Comment [1] (citing State v. Culbreath, 30 S.W.3d 309 (Tenn. 2000)).

Mr. Northcott is unfit for office if he protects his personal politics before his community’s victims.

 

Chase Parker

Chattanooga, Tenn.