A complaint filed with the federal courts has shed new light on the judicial scandal in Tennessee.
According to the complaint, a Tennessee bankruptcy judge used her federal bench to target an African American female attorney and her law firm, Upright Law, for the benefit of a court-insider.
Between May 18, 2016 and June 20, 2018, Bankruptcy Judge Suzanne H. Bauknight issued -- on her own initiative -- at least 87 orders attacking the integrity and competence of persons associated with Upright Law. The orders were unusual because they were done by Bauknight without any person requesting that they be issued.
According to the complaint, Bankruptcy Judge Bauknight used her orders to require Upright Law to pay a court insider -- Gwendolyn Kerney -- $200,000.
Bauknight's orders targeted many persons associated with Upright Law.
Her first orders targeted African-American attorney Grace Gardner. At that time, Ms. Gardner was the local partner for Upright Law, in Knoxville, Tennessee. She had a twenty-five year unblemished record in the law.
On July 15, 2016, Bankruptcy Judge Bauknight began to issue orders attacking Upright Law's management, located in Chicago.
On April 27, 2017, Bauknight began issuing orders targeting Upright Law's legal fees, in cases pending before her. Between April 27, 2017 and December 27, 2017, Bankruptcy Judge Bauknight substantially reduced Upright Law's fees in at least fourteen cases. She did this on her own initiative.
Bankruptcy Judge Bauknight issued these orders while her courtroom colleague -- Gwendolyn Kerney -- was demanding a payment from Upright Law in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
When Upright Law refused to settle with Kerney, Bauknight began to issue orders attacking the integrity and competence of Upright Law's new local partner, Elliott J. Schuchardt. Between January 9, 2018 and June 20, 2018, Bankruptcy Judge Bauknight issued dozens of orders -- on her own initiative -- attacking attorney Schuchardt. Schuchardt, too, had a twenty-five unblemished record in the law.
On June 21, 2018, Upright Law agreed to pay Bauknight's colleague -- Gwendolyn Kerney -- $200,000 in connection with the case. The firm also agreed to withdraw from the Knoxville market.
Attorney Schuchardt has filed a complaint with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, concerning Bankruptcy Judge Bauknight's conduct. In his complaint, Schuchardt contends that the orders were unlawful, and should be vacated pursuant to federal law. Schuchardt has also written to Congress, asking the federal government to establish an independent review board to monitor the conduct of federal judges.
Schuchardt is a 1993 graduate of Columbia Law School, located in New York. For the first ten years of his practice, he worked with large law firms in New York, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. Schuchardt has spent much of the last ten years engaging in civil liberties work in the courts.
Elliott J. Schuchardt
8033 Ellisville Lane
Knoxville, TN 37909
Phone: (865) 304-4374
E-mail: [email protected]
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