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  • The Rogersville Review

    Boyd granted Judicial Diversion, probation increased to two years

    By By Jeff Bobo Editor,

    15 days ago

    Former Hawkins County Juvenile Judge Daniel Boyd was granted a Judicial Diversion Thursday, although Judge Kelly Thomas increased his probation time from 18 months to two years.

    Thomas also ordered Boyd to pay Hawkins County $21,000 in restitution for salary he received during his suspension. Boyd had already repaid the county $100,000 that he received while on paid suspension, but the county determined he’d been compensated a total of $121,000 overall in salary and benefits during his suspension.

    Boyd pleaded guilty in Hawkins County Criminal Court on Feb. 29 to three counts of forgery and criminal simulation, all of which are Class E felonies. The cases pertained to actions that took place in his private practice.

    He was initially sentenced by Judge Thomas, a special appointed judge from Knoxville, to 18 months probation and a $400 fine. Boyd is also required to serve 100 hours of community service over the next year.

    According to court records, Boyd signed the name of Chancellor Doug Jenkins and Clerk and Master Brent Price on a divorce form in a case he had neglected and let drag on for years. Thomas said the motive for the forgery wasn’t financial gain but to avoid the wrath of his client and a potential complaint to the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (BPR).

    After pleading guilty, Boyd’s attorneys Wayne Culbertson and Matthew King filed a motion for Judicial Diversion, which is available to non-violent, first-time offenders. If he completes his newly increased probation term of two years, Boyd can petition the court to have his record expunged.

    Special appointed prosecutor Barry Staubus from Sullivan County opposed Judicial Diversion, citing three reasons.

    Staubus noted that Boyd committed the crime while in a position of trust.

    Staubus also pointed to Boyd’s previous discipline from the BPR for similar neglect and deceit toward legal clients, which includes a suspension of his law license.

    Staubus said the third reason for opposing the Judicial Diversion was public perception of the legal system. Staubus said if the court granted this “extraordinary relief” it tells the public there are two sets of laws, one for prominent citizens, and one for ordinary citizens.

    Neither Staubus nor Boyd’s legal team called any witnesses, although there was discussion about the extensive amount of investigative information in Boyd’s file.

    Among that evidence was a psychological examination which Thomas said indicates Boyd has a ”serious mental health issue” which is directly linked to the criminal acts.

    Thomas also imposed a requirement on Boyd’s probation that he follow the directions of his doctor.

    Boyd was permitted to read a statement to the court without being cross-examined by Staubus.

    Boyd became emotional as he admitted that he had disgraced himself, his family, and his professions. He apologized to his family for the stress he caused them, and for his betrayal of trust with the Clerk and Master and Chancellor Jenkins.

    The main excuse he offered for his actions was the stress of working two full-time jobs, his private practice and the Juvenile Judge, which for most of his 13 years on the bench was supposed to be part-time but was very time-consuming.

    Boyd noted that as a judge he often told defendants that saying you’re sorry is only words, and talk is cheap.

    “Apology without change is manipulation,” Boyd told the court. “As I stand before you today, I assure you that I will be changed.”

    Thomas said there are legal factors that must be taken into account when a judge considers Judicial Diversion. He said Boyd accepted responsibility and has great remorse, which weighs in his favor.

    Thomas said the circumstances of the crime were troubling due to years of deceit and past disciplinary actions, which weighed against Boyd.

    Boyd has a good family and home to support his rehabilitation, which weighed in his favor.

    As far as serving as a deterrent for Boyd and others to commit similar crimes, Thomas noted that the public has seen Boyd prosecuted and publicly disgraced. The public and other attorneys have also seen Boyd lose his judgeship and ability to practice law, which Thomas said is a deterrent for others.

    The final factor, Thomas said, is he believes it’s in the best interest of the community for Boyd to retain his ability to work his way back to being a meaningful and productive member of his community, which would be very difficult as a convicted felon.

    “The public has an interest in seeing people punished for crimes, and I think the public interest has been served,” Thomas said.

    Whether or not Boyd can ever practice law again will be a matter for the BPR to determine, but currently his law license is suspended.

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