Buck and Others Seek Due Process Hearing on Ouster of D.A. Bill Gibson

March 23, 2008

State legislators from the Upper Cumberland area, including State Representative Frank Buck, are preparing to seek passage of a resolution in the legislature asking for a due process hearing on the removal of District Attorney Bill Gibson from office.

Gibson has been unable to serve as D.A. for the 13th Judicial District since his law license was suspended in 2006 over an ethics scandal.

That scandal involved letters he wrote to a convicted murderer and efforts he made to help a woman clear a meth conviction from her record.

Gibson was investigated by the TBI and the case was recently presented to a Putnam County Grand Jury, which failed to indict him for official misconduct.

The D.A. has since has been trying to negotiate with the State Board of Professional Responsibility to get his law license back.

Buck, in a telephone interview with WJLE Saturday, explained the resolution, which is co-sponsored by himself along with State Representative Henry Fincher of Cookeville and State Representative Charles Curtiss of Sparta. "We called the Board of Professional Responsibility inquiring about what they were going to do. Although they may remove his law license, they cannot remove him from office. Removal from office is up to the General Assembly, and the General Assembly only. They have not scheduled a meeting until May or June and the General Assembly will be gone home by then. There were a whole group of us who felt as though the General Assembly needed an opportunity to consider the proof and make a decision as they saw fit in light of the fact that the man has been drawing a salary for a year to a year and a half and unable to do the job."

" We're asking for the General Assembly to conduct a due process hearing which is apparently required under federal court decisions and all of us who vote on it (lawmakers) are jurors. We fulfill the role of the jury so to speak and we must, by two thirds vote in each house, vote for him to be removed. We should not make up our minds as to his guilt or innocence or whether he should be removed until we give him an opportunity to be heard. He's got the right to come forward and offer his proof."

"I think a vast majority of the House members in this 13th Judicial District feel as though that this matter ought to be brought to the attention of the entire body and that the entire body ought to have an opportunity to vote on his removal. The House votes and must do so by two thirds vote under the Constitution. The Senate, by separate resolution, must vote in the same manner. It's my understanding the Governor has no role in this one. It's just a matter of the House and Senate voting to remove. It's very tantamount to impeachment is what it amounts to."

The legislators say they are concerned that Gibson is still being paid his full salary, while another prosecutor appointed to serve in his place, Tony Craighead, is also receiving the same pay.

The resolution seeks the appointment of a joint legislative committee to investigate the issue, hold a hearing, and then vote on the removal question.

If the committee is appointed and decides to recommend removal, then the full House and Senate would vote on the issue.

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