Judge Betty Moore, who currently holds the General Sessions Court Division 5 office, took issue with comments made by her opponent, Ellen Fite, in last week’s article concerning that judicial race.
She sent me an email rebutting the article and here is her complete, unedited response:
I had the opportunity to read an article by you concerning Ms. Ellen Fite as a candidate for judge.
Initially I thought, it’s campaign time just best to ignore things such as this, but then after much thought and prayer I concluded that even Paul the Apostle had a chance to speak against false accusations.
Before becoming a judge, I learned as a trial attorney that there are two sides to every story and I am sure that as an experienced journalist you recognize the same thing.
Ms. Fite made some statements in your article that I would like to address.
First, I don’t yell, scream at or abuse people that come into my court. If I did, a complaint could have and should have been filed. Yes, there have been times when I have talked loudly to litigants and/or attorneys alike to get his or her attention in a situation that is getting out of control…they are hostile, talking loudly themselves, not listening to instructions, talking over the court, things like that that can make an orderly situation into one that can become disorder really quick unless I do get control and quickly. I am thankful that this doesn’t happen too often, but it has happened and I do regain control of a potentially bad situation.
I am sure that you can agree, that it is unrealistic to believe that every litigant, every time, and sometimes attorneys, who comes to court will have the sweetest personality. It just doesn’t always happen and the court has to be prepared and respond accordingly. I have the utmost respect for ALL persons who come into my court not withstanding any situation.
Secondly, I have never, ever had a lawyer ask for a bathroom break, for whatever reason, and it wasn’t granted. Further, I don’t send my bailiff to make people come from going to the bathroom. Period. Another opportunity to could have and should have complained to the appropriate party.
Thirdly, I did take some time off last year. And other times throughout my tenure. No unreasonable amount of time, no more or less than any of the other judges, for conferences, illnesses and as you may or may not know my Father, an Alzheimer patient was missing for four days, 2013, before being found dead. All of this did require some off time. Otherwise, I am committed to being at work and manning my court as the Judge every day.
Lastly, I have always been one to start court on time, 10 a.m. docket, and 1:30 p.m. docket. There may have been a few times, not many, over almost 16 years, that I may have started late but those times are few and far between. Just for your information, there have also been a number of times when I have a lot of special court settings at 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. in the morning to accommodate litigants and lawyer alike. Still do.
I know that you realize that this is a campaign season. You probably know Ms. Fite personally and trust her every word-that is your prerogative but I ask you as a responsible journalist to come to the courthouse, sit in the court rooms—my court room- and see for yourself how we work and handle ourselves. Not just during elections but year round. Get the facts for yourself. If you do you will see that I am a really good judge, that I do my job and that I do it well.
P.S. If interested, I would love to share with you letters that I have received from several litigants who have appeared in my court and appreciate the work that I do. firstname.lastname@example.org