Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott will remain the special prosecutor in the case between student activist Justin Bautista-Jones and former Tennessee Speaker Glen Casada.
Davidson County General Sessions Judge Diane Turner has denied a motion to disqualify Northcott as special prosecutor filed in July by Jones’ attorney.
Northcott was assigned to the case after Nashville District Attorney Glen Funk recused himself.
Jones was charged with assault against Casada in February after throwing a cup of coffee at the former Speaker at the state capitol. When released on bond, he was told to have no further contact with Casada.
In an attempt to have that bond revoked, the Speaker’s office delivered to Funk dated emails meant to show Jones had violated his bond conditions by attempting to contact Casada. However, the emails were found to have conflicting dates – one before Jones’ arrest and another after it.
Casada’s office has denied tampering with evidence.
In July, Jones’ attorney Nick Leonardo filed the motion to disqualify Northcott as prosecutor in the case, citing his social media comments against Muslims and a later video of Northcott making anti-LGBT statements.
Leonardo also called into question Northcott’s “lobbying” relationship with the Tennessee General Assembly and the ongoing investigation into Northcott’s anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments by the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (TBPR) as potential conflicts of interest.
“The defendant [Jones] submits that there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding General Northcott’s involvement in this case,” the motion read. “The defendant believes that this honorable court should disqualify him as the prosecutor in this case and requests that the district attorney general’s conference appoint a private attorney to proceed with the prosecution or to appoint another prosecutor whose overt personal perspectives and views are in accordance with and strict adherence to the oath of office that attaches to an elected district attorney general in the state of Tennessee.”
Northcott responded in court Thursday morning by calling the move a “political stunt.”
“I’m just asking for the court to let me do my job,” he said.
Judge Turner said she was “not persuaded” the reasons stated in the motion were enough to have Northcott disqualified and denied the motion.
The ethics complaints against Northcott are still being investigated by TBPR. As it is an ongoing investigation, TBPR officials have declined to comment.
Requests made to Northcott for comment were unanswered by press time.
Erin McCullough may be reached at email@example.com.