Former Hawkins County Sessions Judge James "Jay" Taylor. Photo by Jeff Bobo.
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ROGERSVILLE — Aside from the handcuffs he was wearing Friday morning former Hawkins County sessions and juvenile judge James “Jay” Taylor looked like any other attorney in the Circuit Courtroom Friday morning.
Despite the fact he is already a convicted felon Taylor was permitted to wear a business suit instead of an orange jumpsuit for Friday’s guilty plea hearing before special appointed Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood.
Taylor, 41, 148 Stewart Hills Drive Rogersville, is already serving a maximum three year jail sentence stemming from guilty pleas last month to six felony theft charges in Davidson County
On Friday Taylor was sentenced to an additional one year behind bars with a 50 percent release eligibility in exchange for guilty pleas to six Hawkins County felony theft charges.
Those charges pertain to theft from clients in his private practice; as well as theft of funds he raised to install a display in the courthouse lobby including the Ten Commandments.
The consecutive sentences call for total jail time of four years, although there is substantial early release eligibility.
The actual amount of time he will serve in jail will ultimately be determined by the Tennessee Department of Corrections and authorities at the Davidson County Jail who calculate his “good time” credits.
In Rogersville Friday Taylor pleaded no contest to one count of theft over $10,000; and he pleaded guilty to a second count of theft over $10,000 and four counts of theft over $1,000.
Aside from one year in jail, Taylor was sentenced Friday to serve an additional two years probation for the Hawkins County charges, for an effective three year sentence.
Taylor was also ordered to pay a total of $71,783 in restitution to six different victims and serve 600 hours of community service.
Taylor has been incarcerated at the Davidson County Jail since being indicted there in May on charges related to fraudulent payment claims he made to the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts.
Taylor’s Hawkins County sentence is to run consecutive to his Davidson County sentence which included three years behind bars with a 30 percent release eligibility, an additional 10 years of probation, and $32,750 in restitution to the state.
Overall it’s a 16 year sentence most of which will be served on probation, and the plea agreement states Taylor will remain disbarred at least until he gets off probation in 2028.
Immediately after concluding his guilty plea Friday Taylor left the courtroom just as one of his victims, former client Melissa Deering, asked the judge to allow her to make a victim impact statement.
Deering was denied an opportunity to speak to Taylor, who left the courtroom and immediately began his trip back to Nashville.
She was, however, permitted to read from a lengthy written statement.
As part of the plea agreement Deering was granted $8,283 in restitution by the court Friday, but in a pending civil lawsuit she claims Taylor stole more than $32,000 of her workman’s comp settlement.
After being interrupted by Taylor’s attorneys three times during her statement Deering was thanked for her comments by the judge, who then adjourned court.
Also present in court Friday was Doris Colleen Burns, who was awarded $50,000 in restitution as part of the plea agreement. In her civil lawsuit Burns claims she loaned Taylor $90,000 and he “extorted” another $16,000 from her.
Taylor’s former employee and client Julie Rasmussen was awarded the full $10,000 she gave to Taylor for what Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Meyer described as a phony investment scheme Taylor used to steal her injury settlement money.
Taylor will also pay restitution amounts of $1,000, $1,000 and $1,500 to two churches and a private business for contributions he received under the pretense of raising funds to install a courthouse Ten Commandments display.