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By DAMON LAWRENCE
For years people have been saying Mark Patton was unfit to hold the office of Roane County constable.
On Wednesday, a judge agreed. In an eight-page ruling, Circuit Court Judge Russell Simmons has determined that Patton should be ousted from office.
“I think justice has been served,” Roane County Sheriff Jack Stockton said Wednesday from the courthouse.
Stockton was one of numerous witnesses who testified during last week's ouster trial. In his ruling, Simmons determined that the evidence showed Patton committed the following acts:
• Threatening the life of a citizen he was elected to protect
• Using racial slurs
• Threatening fellow law enforcement officers and their family members
• Forcing vehicles off the road for a traffic stop for no legal reason
• Using actions and words toward other law enforcement officers that could distract the other officer and place him and third parties at risk
• Using threats to coerce someone to have arrest warrants dropped
Because Patton was an elected official, Simmons said the decision to oust Patton wasn't an easy one to make.
“The court has not taken lightly its decision because the voters did put Mark Patton in his office as constable,” Simmons wrote, “and a decision to oust an elected official must be done only after sufficient evidence of misconduct has been entered in open court. Based on the above, it is the judgment of the court that Mark Patton should be ousted as constable of Roane County.”
District Attorney General Russell Johnson and Roane County Attorney Tom McFarland filed the ouster suit against Patton. In a released statement, both men praised the judge's decision.
“Because of this case, Roane County is a safer place today than it was yesterday,” McFarland said.
Patton was elected constable in 2006. He was indicted in February on two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of official misconduct. He allegedly tried to run family members of Stockton and Kingston Police Chief Jim Washam off area roads. Patton also has assault charges pending against him in another case.
“We're thankful the judicial system has worked,” Stockton said of the judge's decision to oust Patton. “We'd go along with the judge's decision regardless of what it was. We're just thankful that it's behind us now.”