JACKSBORO - The trial for suspended Campbell County Judge Amanda Sammons got underway Tuesday with jury selection.
Sammons faces two felony counts of official misconduct for her handling of a case earlier this year while she was on the bench.
A total of 144 potential jurors went to the Campbell County courthouse as part of the juror pool. By Tuesday afternoon, a group of jurors and alternates had been selected.
The trial is expected to last about three days, with opening statements starting Wednesday.
The self-proclaimed “blue-eyed assassin” has been under scrutiny for months as defense attorneys – and even the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office – have accused her of overstepping her authority.
A grand jury in August initially indicted Sammons on four counts of official misconduct that were tied to two separate cases. However, senior Judge Paul Summers dismissed two of the counts in mid-October.
At issue now are the two charges tied to a case involving 26-year-old Krista Smith of Jacksboro.
Smith was pulled over by a Caryville police officer in January 2016 because her children were not wearing seatbelts. The officer arrested her, and she was charged with child endangerment. However, while she was in the Campbell County jail, deputies said Sammons called and had her charges revised to aggravated child abuse and neglect – a much more serious charge.
Sammons denied making that change, but records kept by the jail dispute that. As a result, Smith’s attorney asked for Sammons to remove herself from the case, claiming she could not remain impartial. Sammons denied that request in February.
In March, Judge Shayne Sexton, of the criminal division, heard Smith’s appeal, and ruled that Sammons would be removed from the case.
Sammons has remained free on her own recognizance.
Each of the Class E felonies carries up to two years for someone with no criminal record.
Sammon’s attorney, Wade Davies, pushed for a speedy trial, saying Sammons is an elected official and wanted to get back to her position as soon as possible.
While suspended, Sammons, who was elected to the bench in 2014, can still draw her judicial pay.
(© 2016 WBIR)