Judge Uses Humor To Inform, State Says No

Issues Reprimand

CHATTANOOGA, TN – (WDEF) – There is one Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge who certainly has a “unique style.”

Trying to blend humor with serious subjects.

Many thought it was comical, in a sense. But the state of Tennessee was not amused.

Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Gerald Webb was appointed to the bench in 2019.  And then elected for a full term in 2020.

The Chattanooga native, a graduate of Brainerd High, presides over both criminal and civil cases.

As a former prosecutor and defense attorney, he’s seen a lot.  And he says he wants to put that knowledge to good use.

“For many folks, entering a courtroom is not a whole lot of fun. For some, it could potentially be the worst day of ones life.
Judge Webb wants to make it as comfortable as possible for everybody. Maybe make it a learning experience as well.”

In such a serious position, the Judge says, at times, one simply can’t hide from the humor.

Going home at the end of the day, and trying to process what you just heard.  What you just saw.

“You get a guy that walks in the courtroom, charged with theft, with a shirt on that says you can’t catch a crook. And despite the obvious, you CAN catch a crook, because we caught him. And he’s here.”

With humor as a backdrop, the Judge began putting out a “Legal Tip Of The Day” on Facebook.

Essentially talking about true stories from the bench.  Running the gamut, from shoplifting to drug use.

Judge Webb says the posts were meant to make people think…..and maybe laugh.

The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct was not amused.  Reprimanding the Judge just a few days ago.  The board said regardless of motivation, the social media posts were not appropriate.  And do not reflect the required caution by a Judge.

So the “Legal Tip Of The Day” is gone.  All have been deleted from Judge Webb’s Facebook page.

In a statement, Judge Webb says “I will still do my best to reach people and take away the fear that people have when walking into this building.”

“When you come to court for a lot of people, it’s scary. I don’t want people to walk into my courtroom in fear. Now, sometimes, you NEED to walk into a courtroom in fear, based on what you’re charged with. But 99 percent of the people I see are good people. They’ve made a mistake. This is probably the worst day of their lives that they have to see me.”

Judge Webb says he accepts the reprimand.  And will cooperate fully.

But he says he’ll always try and find ways…..to keep people…..out of the courthouse.

Judge Webb, who is the first African-American judge to serve in the Hamilton County court system, says it just comes down to different people…….having different ways of communicating.

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