Cocke County General Sessions Judge John Bell took his third disciplinary strike in June and was sent to the showers, but his bank account won't suffer.
A judicial ethics panel last month suspended Bell for 90 days with pay - essentially a three-month paid vacation - after his third violation.
The decision makes one wonder what it would take to actually remove a sitting judge, and a revelation during the proceeding that a previous action against Bell has been shielded from the public view exposed a flaw in the process.
Bell was convicted in June for mishandling a relatively simple lawsuit. The Court of the Judiciary could have removed him, but instead opted to keep him off the bench for 90 days.
Once the decision was made to suspend him, the panel could not keep Bell from receiving his salary during the hiatus. The state constitution doesn't allow the panel to take a judge's pay.
Taxpayers also will have to pay the salary for a special judge who will have to hear Bell's cases during the suspension.
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Discipline Against Judge Exposes Flaws