Former court clerk defiant when being sworn into court - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Former court clerk defiant when being sworn into court

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Otis Jackson Otis Jackson
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A defiant former Shelby County court clerk faced a judge Friday.

The hearing for Otis Jackson was supposed to be simple, but it turned into much more.

Jackson is accused of coercing his employees to donate money to his re-election campaign.

After nearly a two hour delay, Otis Jackson appeared before Judge Walter Kurtz, who was not pleased about waiting on both Jackson and his attorney.

What was suppose to be a cut and dry diversion hearing, turned confrontational when Jackson refused to go under oath.

"Mr. Jackson, raise your right hand please. Right hand! Raise you right hand," Judge Kurtz asked the defendant.

Judge Kurtz asked Jackson four times to raise his right hand. Jackson refused.

At one point, a deputy jailer even attempted to reason with Jackson. Nearly 10 minutes passed before Jackson's attorney finally convinced him to take the oath.

"I will raise my right hand," said Jackson.

Judge Kurtz asked, "Do you swear and affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth, so help you God?"

In which Jackson responded, "To what?"

Kurtz replied, "To the questions I'm going to ask you, Mr. Jackson. Is there some problem here?"

Jackson replied, "Yes."

When Kurtz asked what the problem was, Jackson answered, "I don't agree with these procedures. I shouldn't be here. This is all some crap."

Clearly agitated, Judge Kurtz threatened to hold Jackson in contempt of court and called his behavior inexplicable.

"I'm still having a hard time understanding why you refused to answer the judges questions," Kurtz asked Jackson.

He replied, "I had a problem with raising my hands not answering the questions."

"Thirty years and six months, you're the only person I've ever run across that refused to be sworn in court," said Kurtz.

Because of Jackson's former position as court clerk, local judges were not allowed to preside on his case.

Judge Kurtz was brought in from Nashville.

Jackson's request for a trial by jury was eventually granted and set for February 19 of next year.

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