Former head prosecutor Joe Crumley was arraigned Friday in Washington County Criminal Court in absentia, then the judge promptly recused himself from the case.
“I can’t hear that. I’ve known Mr. Crumley for years,” said Judge Robert Cupp.
Crumley’s attorney, Jim Bowman, handed the judge a waiver of appearance signed by Crumley allowing him to be absent from the appearance.
Crumley, 58, is charged in a three-count indictment with two felonies — reckless endangerment and felony evading arrest — and reckless driving, a misdemeanor.
The charges stem from a Sept. 21 incident in Jonesborough during which he’s accused of crossing the center line while driving and refusing to pull over when Jonesborough Public Safety officers ordered him to do so.
Crumley experienced a medical situation, described as seizure activity, after being placed in handcuffs and put inside a police cruiser after he pulled over.
The seizure put Crumley in the hospital for nearly a week before he turned himself in at the Washington County Detention Center.
During Friday’s brief hearing, Bowman told Cupp, “we’re going to try the case.”
Cupp said he has already contacted the Administrative Office of the Courts to get a substitute judge after failing to find one in adjoining districts himself.
“I’ve checked with adjoining counties and nobody wants to get involved” because of Crumley’s work in several judicial districts as a prosecutor.
In the First District, which includes Washington, Carter, Unicoi and Johnson counties, Crumley served as the elected District Attorney General from 1998 until 2006, when Tony Clark defeated him in his re-election bid.
Cupp also paved the way Friday for a possible diversion in the case.
“I’ll tell the state to go ahead and get a TBI certificate. He’s obviously eligible,” Cupp said.
A TBI certificate is a criminal history check, which shows a defendant is eligible, or not eligible, for diversion. There has been no indication from Bowman if he will seek diversion for his client.
Cupp set the case on Dec. 16 for tracking to see if the AOC has appointed a judge to hear the matter.
Crumley is free on a $12,500 bond.