Woody granted judicial diversion
by GREG KAYLOR, Banner Staff Writer
Jul 02, 2013 | 2828 views | 0 0 comments | 54 54 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Bradley County Sheriff’s Office detective resigned his position during the weekend, went to court Monday and entered a guilty plea “on information,” and was given a suspended three-year sentence following a TBI investigation that involved an allegation of tampering with evidence.

The negotiated sentence was handed down in Bradley County Criminal Court by Judge Carroll Ross.

TBI Agent Josh Melton was in charge of the investigation involving the BCSO captain.

James “Jimmy” Woody will also be on three years of probation, according to Stephen Hatchett, assistant district attorney general.

Woody had informed BCSO Chief Deputy Wayne Bird on June 22 that he was under investigation by TBI. Woody was immediately placed on administrative leave.

According to a statement Monday by Bob Gault, media coordinator for BCSO, “Capt. Jimmy Woody resigned his commission as deputy sheriff this past weekend.”

“While we are saddened for the community, department, family and individual when wrong-doing is alleged, we as upholders of the law must determine truth, make corrections, support what is just and move forward as quickly as possible,” Sheriff Jim Ruth said in a statement issued today.

No formal charges were brought, according to Hatchett.

“The defendant became enmeshed in the current situation after being solicited by a female acquaintance,” Hatchett said. “Tragically, it is not uncommon for individuals to make poor judgments when requested to do so by the opposite sex, and history is replete with examples.”

He added, “The law is the law and we can’t treat people differently just because they are an officer of the law.”

Hatchett said Woody’s case was considered for judicial diversion and Woody pleaded guilty “on information.”

“In the state of Tennessee, a person can make a plea ‘on information’ in place of the case proceeding to a grand jury. He waived his rights to go before a grand jury and entered a guilty plea,” Hatchett explained.

According to information provided by the 10th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office and Hatchett, “Mr. Woody, through his attorney, requested judicial diversion. The DAG’s office, after reviewing the applicable criteria, recommended to the sentencing court that Mr. Woody be placed on judicial diversion.”

Criteria for diversion includes criminal and social history, mental condition, attitude, behavior, emotional stability, employment history, home environment, family responsibility, general reputation, amenability to correction and circumstances of offense.

Woody reportedly met the criteria and was granted the diversion, having no prior criminal history, acknowledging guilt when interviewed and retaining counsel, as well as meeting other elements involved in the criteria used to determine applicability of judicial diversion.

According to Hatchett’s information concerning the case, “The likelihood [is] that judicial diversion will serve the ends of justice and the best interests of both the public and the defendant. Equal justice applies to every individual.

“It is not uncommon for there to be claims of favoritism when a person in a position of authority is accused of and ultimately sentenced for committing a crime. Mr. Woody should not be punished more harshly or less harshly because he was a deputy sheriff.

“Judicial diversion provides a person who does not demonstrate an intent to engage in repeated instances of criminal activity a chance to not be stigmatized with a felony conviction. It is not uncommon and the law recognizes that a person can make a criminal decision but never do so again, and live a productive life,” Hatchett said.

Attempts this morning to contact Woody’s attorney, Scott Kanavos, for comment were unsuccessful.