The investigation related to Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott is lasting longer than average.
The Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (TBPR) announced in a letter dated June 7 that it had opened an investigation following allegations of misconduct.
Most investigations are completed within four months, according to TBPR Chief Disciplinary Counsel Sandy Garrett.
“While four months is an average time spent to investigate a complaint filed with the Board, some matters may take longer depending upon the complexity of the investigation,” Garrett said.
Possible outcomes of the investigation
“Disciplinary Counsel may recommend dismissal (if there is insufficient proof of a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct); diversion; private informal admonition; private reprimand; public censure or the filing of formal disciplinary charges,” Garrett said.
A hearing committee member, who is an attorney appointed by the Supreme Court, will approve or disapprove of Disciplinary Counsel’s recommendation of dismissal, diversion or private informal admonition, said Garrett.
“The Board of Professional Responsibility reviews and approves or disapproves Disciplinary Counsel’s recommendation for private reprimand, public censure and the filing of formal disciplinary charges,” Garrett said.
“If formal disciplinary charges are filed, a three member hearing panel will issue a judgment recommending dismissal (if the Panel finds no violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct), public censure, suspension or disbarment.”
The respondent attorney (Northcott) and the Board of Professional Responsibility may appeal the hearing panel’s recommendation to Circuit or Chancery Court and the Tennessee Supreme Court, added Garrett.
“Hearing panel judgments that are not appealed are subject to review by the Tennessee Supreme Court,” Garrett said.
Calling for conclusion
"CAIR is calling on TBPR to conclude its ethics investigation into Northcott's egregious anti-Muslim rhetoric and bias towards Muslims in the state of Tennessee,” said CAIR Director of Government Affairs Robert McCaw. “In his exchanges with TBPR, Northcott has not denied his extreme anti-Muslim prejudice and we believe that to be evidence enough of his inability to treat Muslim defendants and plaintiffs impartially."
The investigation is in response to a complaint filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) over a series of anti-Muslim social media posts.
CAIR’s complaint alleges that Northcott violated two rules of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct, said McCaw.
The complaint alleges that Northcott violated Rule 3.8 of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct, a comment to which states that prosecutors are expected “to be impartial in the sense that charging decisions should be based upon the evidence, without discrimination or bias for or against any groups or individuals.”
It also alleges that Northcott violated rule 8.4(d), which stipulates that, “A lawyer who, in the course of representing a client, knowingly manifests, by words or conduct, bias or prejudice based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status” engages in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.
Northcott’s original post
Northcott’s original Facebook response, in its entirety, is as follows:
“Their belief system is evil, violent and against God’s Truth. If they follow the teaching of their “god” and lead the life exemplified by their “prophet”, they must kill anyone who doesn’t accept their lie. They are taught to commit many atrocities in the name of their “god” including pedophilia, beating of their wives, female genital mutilation and “honor” killings. They are not evil because of their gender, skin color or country of origin. Instead, they are evil because they profess a commitment to an evil belief system. They are no less evil because they don’t act on their belief system if they refuse to disavow that system. Romans 1:32 comes to mind in which we are taught that you are just as guilty before God if you give approval to those who engage in evil acts. It is no different than being part of the KKK, Aryan Nation, etc. If you support those viewpoints, you are rightly and readily condemned in our society. However, it is now politically incorrect to take a stand against Islam that has the same core of hate. I do not hate the individual but I will not be cowered into pretending that their belief system is legitimate or one of peace. We are fools if we don’t recognize this and protect ourselves, our families, our communities and our country from succumbing to this present and growing threat. Take a look at what is happening in Europe and see if you want that for America.”