An investigation by the FBI was launched in late 2011 after allegations Randolph conducted “a hearing and [set] release conditions for a defendant who was arrested in connection with a warrant issued as a result of an affidavit of complaint” which Randolph personally signed as a victim of the crime.
Randolph’s law office in downtown Cleveland had been burglarized.
The initial investigation into the allegations against Randolph came about at the request of District Attorney General Steve Bebb. “We asked TBI to see if Judge Randolph had violated someone’s rights,” Bebb said. “All I can say is we did our duty.” Bebb confirmed his request for the TBI investigation was based on the filing of a complaint against Randolph by an unidentified person. Bebb declined to identify the complainant.
A number of antique firearms and other items were taken during the burglary of Randolph’s office, according to Cleveland Police Department investigator Walter Mitchell.
Randolph contacted Mitchell and said he had information that Gregory Workman was allegedly involved in the burglary which apparently occurred sometime between Aug. 30 and Sept. 6. According to Mitchell’s affidavit, $2,943 in antique guns and musical instruments were missing from Randolph’s North Ocoee Street office. Mitchell and CPD detective Steve Ross began the investigation and found David Copeland had pawned three antique instruments “fitting the description of the instruments that were stolen from Mr. Randolph.”
Detective Brian Pritchard also got involved in the case and recovered the pawned items from a local business. According to paperwork filed with the courts, Patricia Hughes had given a statement to Randolph on an affidavit stating Workman’s alleged involvement in the burglary.
“I saw Gregory Workman give David Copeland a .44 Ruger Black Hawk gun in Room 318 at the Crown Inn. Sheridan Randolph identifies this as one of the items stolen from his office about two weeks ago. David Copeland has already confessed to the burglary,” Hughes reported in an affidavit which Randolph also signed Sept. 23. Mitchell’s affidavit also noted Copeland had admitted to the burglary and “gave a full confession.”
The affidavit added, “Mr. Copeland advised that him and Gary Looper had broken into Mr. Randolph’s office on North Ocoee Street and had split the items that they had taken from the office. He also told me that he had taken most of the guns to a small bar located on 1st Street and sold them to the owner of the bar. I went to the bar and spoke with the owner and he advised me that he had purchased several guns from David Copeland and his friend, but he had sold them.”
According to Mitchell, the investigation continued and he felt he made a 100 percent recovery of the stolen items; however, he could never link Workman to the alleged burglary. “I could find no evidence Workman was involved,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell also said Randolph didn’t believe all of his property had been recovered from the burglary. According to the Workman arrest warrant, he was charged with theft on Sept. 24, 2011, and released on an “own recognizance” bond Sept. 26, when he was arraigned.
According to the letter to Randolph in the public reprimand issued by presiding Judge Chris Craft of the Judiciary panel:
“Sept. 26, 2011, you had this individual brought before you in your court, heard statements made by him concerning the burglary, and ordered him released on his recognizance. Upon receiving notice of the complaint from the Disciplinary Counsel to the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary, you promptly responded and admitted that you had in fact held the hearing and realized that it was error for you to do so.
“Your participation in a matter in which you were the victim of the crime is a violation of Canon 3E(l)(d)(iv) of the Code of Judicial Conduct as set forth in Rule 10 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Tennessee which, provides in pertinent part:
“(I) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where ...
“(d) the judge or the judge's spouse, or a person within the third degree of relationship to either of them....
“(iv) is to the judge's knowledge likely to be a material witness in the proceeding.
“The holding of this hearing is also a violation of Canon 2A, which requires that a, ‘Judge shall respect and comply with the law and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary.’
“Accordingly, this letter constitutes a public reprimand for your actions.”
Randolph, who was reached this morning by the Banner at Bradley County General Sessions Court, declined comment on the court reprimand.