MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Former Shelby County General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson is lucky he's not in jail after he refused to follow a judge's orders during what should've been a routine court appearance Friday morning.
Jackson is accused of forcing employees to raise funds for his re-election campaign on the clock. He was supposed to enter into an agreement with prosecutors and get diversion. That meant if he stayed out of trouble for a year, the official misconduct charges would be wiped off his record.
But at the 11th hour, Jackson changed his mind and decided he wanted to go to trial.
"There is a judge and the judge asks questions and in 30 years and 6 months you're the only person that I've ever run across that refused to be sworn in court, which is kind of odd and really inexplicable," stated Judge Walter Kurtz, after Jackson decided he didn't want to do what the judge asked him to do.
"Mr. Jackson, raise your right hand, please. Right hand, raise your right hand!"
Jackson refused not once, but several times. Even after a discussion with his lawyer, Jackson wouldn't raise his right hand.
Judge: Is there some problem?
Judge: What's the problem?
Jackson: I don't agree with these proceedings, I shouldn't be here, this is all some crap.
Finally, with the threat of possibly being taken to jail, Jackson did what he was told.
Judge: Raise your hand; do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?
Jackson: I'll do my best.
Judge: Well, you'll do it.
The judge only wanted Jackson to go on the record to make sure he wanted a trial. As for the former court clerk's bizarre behavior, his lawyer Bill Massey explained, "Probably because he's never been in a proceeding like this before. This is all new to him and I think he was just skeptical, I don't know."
Jackson didn't want to talk to the judge or the media. He stormed out of the courtroom without saying a word.
Now that Jackson has passed on diversion, this case will go to trial in February. If a jury finds him guilty, the maximum penalty is 24 years.