Judge recuses himself from cases involving local protesters


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Hamilton County General Sessions Judge Gary Starnes recuses himself from cases involving local protesters.

Just this week, protest leaders including Marie Mott and “C-Grimey” were in court.

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They’re accused of charges related to incidents that happened during protests including blocking an emergency vehicle and burning a flag.

The protests started after the death of George Floyd.

“Judge Starnes did the right thing, and before being formally asked to do it. Every judge encounters these situations at some time, and he quickly addressed it,” Mott’s attorney McCracken Poston said.

Some had been calling for the Judge to recuse himself.

A picture floated around on social media of the judge’s Facebook timeline and a picture of his young grandson and other children, one holding a blue line flag.

“Although Judge Starnes has recused himself from some protesters, he needs to recuse himself from all protesters. He has proven himself to be a biased and conflicted judge,” Concerned Citizens For Justice Member Ayana Clemmons said.

The organization Concerned Citizens for Justice is calling for the judge to recuse himself in other cases against protesters and amnesty for all of them.

According to a press release, Starnes said in relation to recusing himself that there were personal attacks on himself and his grandchild.

A TBI official said that on Friday, they got a request from Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston to open an investigation on Mott.

They said that the scope of the request is for retaliation for past actions, and threats to a General Sessions Judge.

“I welcome any outside investigation, as there was no intimidation. There may have been some constitutionally protected speech, but no intimidation – except for that in referring a matter that was over and done with to the TBI,” Poston said.

Court dates of cases involving multiple protesters have been pushed to the beginning of October.