Former Hawkins County judge's wife ordered to pay $63,000

Jeff Bobo • Nov 26, 2012 at 10:34 AM

ROGERSVILLE — The wife of former Hawkins County sessions and juvenile judge James “Jay” Taylor was ordered earlier this month to pay more than $63,000 to the plaintiff in a civil lawsuit filed against the couple last year.

The order, filed in Hawkins County Circuit Court on Nov. 9, was signed by Sevier County Circuit Judge Rex Henry Ogle, who was appointed to hear the case of Doris Colleen Burns versus James Taylor and his wife, Julia North Taylor.

In December of last year, Burns filed a lawsuit against James Taylor alleging that on Nov. 12, 2008, he borrowed $65,000 from Burns, who was his client in pending civil litigation. The note was reportedly cosigned by Julia Taylor.

Ogle’s order states that based on Julia Taylor’s failure to reply to the allegations through counsel, or pro se, the court entered a judgment against her for a total of $63,341, which includes Burns’ attorney fee and court costs.

Kingsport attorney David Darnell is listed as Julia Taylor’s attorney in Ogle’s order.

A message left for Darnell by the Times-News Monday seeking comment about the judgment was not returned.

James Taylor was ordered to pay Burns $50,000 in restitution stemming from the same situation when he pleaded guilty Oct. 12 in Hawkins County Criminal Court to six felony theft charges.

Those theft charges stemmed from money stolen from former clients in Taylor’s private law practice as well as theft of funds he raised under the pretext of hanging historical documents including the Ten Commandments on the wall of the Hawkins County Justice Center.

Morristown attorney Paul Whetstone, who represents Burns in her lawsuit, said the criminal restitution and civil judgment overlap.

“We’re not double dipping, but we now have two courts that have ordered these funds be paid to my client,” Whetstone said. “That’s two courts the defendants will have to answer to if these funds aren’t paid.”

Whetstone noted, however, that Burns isn’t through with the Taylors.

In February, Burns amended her original lawsuit to include an additional $16,000 she claims James Taylor “extorted” from her in 2010. She is also seeking “unspecified damages” in that amended suit.

The amended lawsuit claims that he threatened Burns with a false criminal charge and prison to intimidate her into paying him $16,000, which Taylor allegedly told Burns was to be used as bribe money.

The lawsuit alleges that in his private practice Taylor was representing Burns in an adoption case involving a child.

Taylor allegedly told Burns that the guardian ad litem in that case was going to place criminal charges against her for “selling a baby.” He allegedly threatened that the consequence could be a prison sentence for Burns, who allegedly paid Taylor the $16,000.

Taylor served as Hawkins County juvenile judge from 2006 until August of 2011, when he was appointed sessions judge by the County Commission. He resigned his sessions judge seat in May, shortly before being indicted in Davidson County and later in Hawkins County on theft charges.

In addition to his October guilty pleas, Taylor pleaded guilty in September in Davidson County to another six felony theft charges stemming from fraudulent payment claims he made from the Tennessee Administrative Office of Courts.

James Taylor is currently incarcerated in the Davidson County Jail awaiting an expected early release on a three-year jail sentence, after which he will remain on probation until 2028.

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