Bad Lawyers

Greeneville Attorney Edward Kershaw Challenges Judge
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Edward Kershaw

Summary: Greeneville attorney Edward Kershaw disrespected a victim during testimony and the judge trying to keep him under control.

A Greeneville attorney had a hard time getting along with a judge during a General Sessions Court. Lawyer Edward Kershaw was charged with criminal contempt of court by Judge Kenneth Bailey Jr. after making a number of contentious comments.


The argument took place during a preliminary hearing that involved an Order of Protection hearing for a woman who knows Kershaw’s client. Bailey fined Kershaw $50 but Kershaw indicated in a written court order that he plans on reporting the incident to the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility.

Bailey noted that in his 11 years as a judge, this is the first time he has ever had to place a lawyer in criminal contempt of court. Bailey states he did not make his decision lightly but he found that Kershaw’s behavior was “disrespectful and unprofessional” towards judges, especially himself.

Bailey wrote in the order that he regretted having to do it “especially given the fact that Mr. Kershaw had once been an attorney who was quite capable, professional and respected by many, including this Court.”

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Kershaw fired back, “I agree that one of us probably acted inappropriately, but that will be determined later.” He is going to appeal the contempt of court finding and file his own report to the Court of the Judiciary.

Coincidentally, the Greene County Courthouse implemented a new security measure. If there is any connection, it is not clear but the courthouse now requires lawyers to go through the same security screening as others that enter the building. The only people that do not have to go through the security search when they enter the building now are law enforcement officers and courthouse employees.

The Sheriff’s Lt. Charles Morelock referred all questions to Sheriff Pat Hankins on the previous policy of allowing attorneys to enter the courthouse without being searched.

Kershaw ran for the position of 3rd Judicial District Attorney General in 2014 but lost. In the case before Bailey, he was representing Earl Wade Gilliam at the hearing. Gilliam had been charged with assault for striking another man on July 15. He was also charged with theft over $2,500 but under $10,000 for an incident on July 21. At the hearing, Judge Bailey went over the evidence, ultimately sending both charges against Gilliam to a Greene County grand jury. An Order of Protection proceeding was included in the hearing.

Kershaw argued that the circumstances in his client’s case were unusual. The victim in the case claimed that Gilliam “came out of the dark and hit” him. The complaint states, “The affiant said he didn’t feel the hits and has no marks. He said he imagined angels sweeping him away from the affiant.” Kershaw added, “This is the weirdest case I have ever been involved in in my entire life.”

Bailey had an issue with the way Kershaw questioned a prosecution witness and some of his verbal remarks with the judge. During the hearing, Bailey took a recess to meet with a “judicial mentor,” Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wright. After meeting with Wright, Bailey came back to the courtroom and imposed the $50 fine.

His order filed in the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office against Kershaw references his conduct during the hearing. Others in the courtroom include the alleged victim of the theft, who happens to already know Gilliam. The alleged victim provided testimony for the Order of Protection, during which they became “quite emotional” when discussing mental abuse, threats and sexual abuse by Gilliam.

The victim’s lawyer “was being very deliberate and sensitive in asking about the sexual abuse.” The order details how the victim was embarrassed over talking about the abuse in a crowded room. “The court handed the woman a box of tissues due to her crying. At this point Attorney Kershaw stood up and began walking toward the table of the court’s assistant,” according to the order. “In the most sarcastic tone possible”, Kershaw asked Bailey “if he could also have a tissue because ‘I am crying due to (the victim’s testimony) and her crying.’”

Bailey found this remark “to be one of the most thoughtless and unprofessional comments ever made in this court’s 22 years of being in the legal profession,” in which he “immediately conveyed to Mr. Kershaw that his comments were out of line, unprofessional and inappropriate. Mr. Kershaw did not apologize to the court or more importantly, to (her) for his comments.”

Kershaw continued to push the victim, “repeatedly ask[ing] questions regarding various issues that the court had already sustained objections to for either being irrelevant, for being ‘asked and answered,’ and other reasons.” He kept pushing so Bailey had to issue a warning. Kershaw shot back a rude remark.

The order states “it was as if the entire courtroom, which was pretty full due to the court’s heavy docket, gasped and a look of shock and surprise came across the face of many individuals in the courtroom.” The order then noted that Kershaw’s “repeated behavior, which would not be accepted by a litigant or non-attorney, was definitely not acceptable by an officer of the court.”

Kershaw was then taken into custody by the courthouse’s security. He was not handcuffed. “The court also added that it has been very disappointed over the past few years as Mr. Kershaw has continued to engage in behavior that was disrespectful and unprofessional towards this judge and the other judges. There was absolutely no expression of regret or act of contrition on behalf of Mr. Kershaw.”

Do you think attorneys go too far in their attempt to help their clients? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn about other attorneys found in contempt of the law, read these articles:

Kershaw Photos:



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