- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 12 Dec 2003.
Lemuel "Tige" Hooper
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 18 Feb 2006.
Judge Ben Hooper II seeks re-election
Circuit Judge Ben W. Hooper II has now formally declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination for circuit Judge, Part I, Fourth Judicial District. The primary election will be on May 2. He presently is the presiding judge of the district, which covers Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson, and Sevier counties.
He married Patsy Mason, of Newport, 31 years ago and together they have four children, Ben W. Hooper III and is wife, Lucy Hooper; Julie Hooper Kyker and her husband, Mike Kyker; Lauren Hooper Bible and her husband, Steve Bible; and Ester (Macy) Mason Hooper Layman and her husband, Scott Layman. All of the families reside in Cocke County, except Ben Hooper III and Lauren Bible, who reside in Jefferson County. They have six grandchildren: Ben W. Hooper IV, Theo Dunn Hooper, Mason Kitzmiller, Jesse Kitzmiller, Jack Kyker and Sam Kyker, all of whom keep them busy during football, baseball, and basketball seasons.
Judge Hooper is a Republican, although he was initially appointed by his Democrat friend, Governor Ned Ray McWherter, in 1993. Hooper said he was quite proud of this appointment, even through occasionally chided by his Republican friends to whom he responded that his grandfather had been twice elected by the uniting of the Republicans and Independent Democrats of Tennessee to the Office of Governor of Tennessee. He does not consider his judgeship as being involved in any way with party politics.
In prior announcements Hooper would recite his activities, honors and organizations to which he belonged while at the University of Tennessee, but states "that was too long ago to even mention now." In the political world, he has twice been elected to serve as a delegate to the Constitutional Conventions in Tennessee in 1965 and 1971, three times elected to serve in the State Senate from 1975 to 1983, and twice elected as the circuit judge, Part I of the Fourth Judicial District. He is an active member of the First Baptist Church of Newport.
As a lawyer, he received the highest peer rating for legal ability and general recommendation that a lawyer could obtain for 25 of his 30 years in practice, and has been admitted to practice in the federal courts of Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, and Tennessee, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. His participation in bar associations and legal organizations has also been extensive, but again he states that there is no reason to list them, as people are more interested in his record as a judge. Judge Hooper said that his present position for the last 12-plus years has been the most rewarding and enjoyable part of his career. "A judge gets to make a lot of decisions on his own, whereas a lawyer has to depend on either a judge or the jury to make the decisions, and as a state senator, I couldn't accomplish a thing by myself. I always had to have 16 other senators join with me." He did note, however, that all his rulings are subject to review and sometimes he is reversed, but always welcomes a reversal, because if he is wrong, he wants to be corrected.
"The life of a judge has its consequences. You have to make changes, you become somewhat isolated, you can't openly express your views on political issues, and I could go on and on. You have to always keep in mind that in the overall scheme of things that you are no more than a grain of sand. However, if you strive to conduct yourself in a proper fashion, life itself is much more enjoyable. I have never held myself up to a standard of perfection, but I do the best I can and that's all anyone should expect of me."
"The real challenge to my job has been the assumption of the Cocke County Criminal Court docket with the help of Judge Rex Henry Ogle. I am proud to say that the criminal docket is in pretty good shape with the tremendous support I have received from the attorney general's Office, the public defender's office, and the circuit court clerk's office. Criminal court is a frustrating arena. Some people need to be shown some compassion and leniency, while others need to be punished to the limit. The frustration comes from trying to determine who is deserving and who is not and to what extent," he said. "I will pledge to you, in exchange for your support, that I will hear everyone courteously, answer you wisely, consider you judicially, and decide impartially to the very best of my ability."
"Lastly, I hope to be able to continue to serve with my fellow circuit judges, Rex Henry Ogle, Dick Vance, and Duane Slone, and Chancellor Telford Forgety. They don't come any better."
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 1 Sep 2006.
Circuit Judge Ben W. Hooper II gives the oath of office to new Attorney General Jimmy Dunn, at right, who was at the Cocke County Courthouse with his wife, Karene, on Friday morning. Judge Hooper swore in all office holders who were elected this year to county offices.
- [S142] Newspaper Article, The Oak Ridger, 4 May 2000.
Fleeing judge checks himself into psychiatric hospital
The Associated Press
NEWPORT -- A Cocke County judge accused of ransacking the county executive's office, then fleeing a psychiatric hospital and eluding a traffic stop, has checked himself in to a private mental health facility, a colleague says.
Circuit Judge Ben Hooper II "is not a fugitive, but a sick man who is seeking help for his problems," fellow Fourth Circuit Judge Richard Vance said today.
Police reportedly didn't know Hooper's whereabouts late Wednesday.
But Vance said Hooper voluntarily checked himself in at an undisclosed private psychiatric hospital on Tuesday. "Ben is getting the help he needs," Vance said.
Vance added that the Hooper has been his friend 35 years and that "the events ascribed to him are totally out of character for him. I am very concerned for his health."
Hooper, 60, was charged with destruction of county property and public intoxication after the incident at County Executive Charles Lewis Moore's office on Monday.
Police escorted him off the property, and he later waited at the Cocke County Jail while the warrants were filled out. But he left with his son, lawyer Ben Hooper III, before they could be served.
Friends then took Hooper to Peninsula Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Louisville, Tenn., but he left after popping the lock off a door shortly before midnight Monday.
Hooper was with his son and former Circuit Court Judge J. Kenneth Porter when Deputy Marty Widener of the Blount County Sheriff's Department pulled them over early Tuesday morning after hearing from dispatchers about the incident at the hospital, authorities said.
On a video recorded from the deputy's car, Hooper's son is heard trying to explain his father's actions. He said his father, who has struggled with a drinking problem for years, had been on a three-day drinking binge and desperately needed intervention.
"Well, he's going to jail in just a second, I can tell you that," Widener shot back.
Hooper's son said his father left the hospital because, at one point, an unidentified man began laughing at him, and he believed he was being ridiculed.
The deputy called for backup, and they let the men go after discussing Hooper's legal options with his son.
Blount County Sheriff James Berrong said the deputies made the right decision in letting Hooper go because hospital officials had not indicated whether they wanted to press charges.
He said the deputies had no way of knowing about the warrants from Cocke County because it sometimes takes up to a day for such records to be entered into the National Crime Information Center's computer system.
Police say Hooper admitted he had vandalized Moore's office in a profanity-laced call to 911 dispatchers. The two had several arguments over political issues.
"You know I hate him," Hooper told the dispatcher. "I absolutely ... hate him. I told him so, and I tore his office all to hell."
Said Assistant Newport Police Chief Clay Webb: "We'll find him when we get time to serve our warrants. If he's in the hospital or rehab somewhere, there's nothing we can do."
Webb stressed that Hooper is facing only misdemeanor charges, saying, "We don't put people in jail on misdemeanor warrants. He will be booked and processed just like anybody else."
Hooper, grandson of the late Gov. Ben Hooper, was a Republican state senator from 1975 to 1983. He was appointed to the bench in 1993.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 19 Dec 2006.
Judge Hooper makes plea to CLB concerning overcrowding of jails
(c)2006 NPT PHOTO BY STEVE BLANCHETT Cocke County Circuit Court Judge Ben Hooper II is shown making a plea to the Cocke County Legislative Body to do something about the Cocke County Detention Center's facilities and inmate conditions at the CLB meeting in the Cocke County Courthouse on Monday.
By: STEVE BLANCHETT
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
NEWPORT-Cocke County Circuit Court Judge Ben Hooper II made a plea to the Cocke County Legislative Body in regular session at the Cocke County Courthouse on Monday to do something about the conditions caused by severe overcrowding in the Cocke County Detention Center's facilities. "According to my recent survey which I think is fairly accurate, 83.5 percent of all cases being heard in Cocke County Criminal Court is directly related to alcohol and drugs, and much more drugs than alcohol," said Hooper. "The interesting factor is that these cases are not drug cases, just related to drugs. They are robberies, burglaries, theft, forgery and bad checks. The last time the Grand Jury met they returned a total of 179 presentments and indictments, and this past Thursday, they met again with 15 more cases being filed, nearly all drug cases." Hooper said the real problem is that this is in no way reducing the drug problem facing Cocke County. "This problem has consequences that are absolutely unimaginable, totally devastating people and their families and wreaks death and destruction throughout Cocke County," said Hooper. Hooper said drug rehabilitation centers are opening up all around us, filling up as quick as their doors open, and people begging to get in. "They can't solve the problem, their success or cure rate is not all that high," said Hooper. "People relapse. Drugs and alcohol are powerful substances and certain drugs are so addictive that a one-time use can produce one more addict." "There is one place within approximately one mile of this courthouse, on the edge of the city limits of Newport, but actually in the county that operates wide open, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day," continued Hooper. "Crackhouses and drug dealers outnumber the churches. A lot of people drawing government assistance for disability have become drug dealers and are showing up in criminal court for selling the addictive drugs they are furnished with your tax dollars. No one is safe in this county or has immunity from being the target of a robbery or assault by a drug addict desperate for money." Hooper asked the CLB members the following: What's wrong? What's happening? What can be done? "I can tell you a little about what's wrong and what is happening, but you are going to have to determine what can be done," added Hooper. "And, before you can determine what can be done, you are going to have to want to do something, get interested, identify problems, appoint subcommittees to study and investigate, make reports and act. Being present every third Monday evening at a CLB meeting won't get it done." Hooper said if any of the CLB members were upset about what he said to get over it, get responsible, get tough, do something positive, don't take anything personally, remembering they asked for the job, just the same as he asked for his. "I am well aware that there are those of you who work extremely hard and are dedicated to serving your county, but maybe you are going to have to turn it up a little more," continued Hooper. "Back to what's wrong. There are not nearly enough law enforcement officers to handle the drug problem. We have the Fourth Judicial Drug Task Force, covering Cocke, Jefferson Sevier and Grainger counties." Hooper said the drug task force has an executive director, Mack Smith, and only three agents that are doing an unbelievably super job, but there should be at least 16 agents, with Cocke County having at least four agents just for its drug problem. "Does our sheriff's department have the manpower to spare? I don't think so," said Hooper. "It has so much money and it only goes so far. "I know that the CLB generally feels that it has bent over backwards to give the sheriff's department more and more money, but do we really have enough officers? Are there enough jailers and do any of them get paid a reasonable wage? The answer is probably 'NO', when some of their pay is just a little above poverty levels. "Why have jailers and officers gone to prison?" asked Hooper. "Could they not survive on their income?" "This is a good time to stop and ask the question of where are we going to put all these people that are going to be arrested by all these additional 'high paid' officers that I say we need. "The Cocke County jails are already running over and in certain confined, one-room areas, such as the women's cell, they are just a step above a cess pool, with people that have highly contagious disease such as hepatitis crowded into one room and sleeping on the floor." Hooper continued by saying that the male inmates are kept in big rooms in conditions that really are inhumane. "Their numbers exceed the number these pods were designed for," said Hooper. "Another question, how proud are you of our drug-free jail? I can't hardly find a person brought from the jail that can pass a drug screen test. Does this mean we should completely abolish the trustee program, do away with the can crew and scrap the work release program?" Hooper asked what jail in Tennessee has the prisoner's clothes washed in a separate building by the prisoners themselves and what jail in Tennessee takes the food from one jail across four lanes of traffic and a railroad track to another jail in all kinds of weather, not to mention all the prisoners from the annex that appear in criminal court every time they are required to be present. "Is there any risk involved to the prisoners, the officers, the public," continued Hooper. "Is this a good opportunity for someone to plan an escape from custody? If someone were injured, would the county be liable? Do our security cameras in the jail work? Do we meet the security standards for our courthouse, for this courtroom? "I'll answer this one for you. When I hold court, I have a bailiff, and about one-half the number of officers needed to handle the prisoners and other than that, there is absolutely no security, no one is checked before they enter this courtroom." Hooper told the CLB members not to blame this on Cocke County Sheriff Claude Strange because he is working on these matters. "How many of you have ever thought of a lawsuit against Cocke County, because the women aren't put on trustee status or get on the can crew?" asked Hooper. "Is this discrimination? How long will it be before our jail conditions are challenged in Federal Court? How many of you read the letter expressing the concerns of our county attorney about our jails? How many of you are satisfied with our just leaving everything the way it is? "If you are satisfied with things, I wish you would resign tonight," said Hooper. "If you ran on a commitment to not raise taxes, I hope you never run on such a commitment again. What will you do when you're court-ordered to build? You'll be in a position of keeping your word or being jailed for contempt of a federal court. "I am certain that it will cost this county to do the things that need to be done, and if there is waste, find it, cut it out, but don't cut programs that are desperately needed. I could go on and on, but this is enough for one night. "Our problems are in and around the justice system of Cocke County. I may not have used the best approach tonight, but bottom line is, please help," concluded Hooper. "He's given us a lot to think about," said Chairman Bill Costner, as Hooper left the meeting. "I know that we all know what he is talking about." Commissioners present were Costner, Phil Killion, Scott McClure, Love Henderson, Norman Smith, Jimmy Lindsey, Calvin Ball, Clay Blazer, Lonnie Ottinger, Andrew Fowler Jr., Tom Sutton, Henry 'Skip' Gregory, David Taylor and Bill Williamson.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 21 Dec 2006.
Hooper speaks to Justice Center Committee
(c)2006 NPT PHOTO BY STEVE BLANCHETT Cocke County Circuit Court Judge Ben Hooper II spoke to the Cocke County Justice Center Committee at the Courthouse Annex on Monday about the need for a new justice center. From left are Cocke County Mayor Iliff McMahan Jr., Cocke County Sheriff Claude Strange, Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge John Bell, Cocke County Director of Court Services Jennifer Shelton, Hooper, Cocke County Finance Director Anne Williams and Cocke County Legislative Body Commissioner Henry 'Skip' Gregory.
By: STEVE BLANCHETT
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
NEWPORT-The Cocke County Justice Center Task Force Committee heard a discussion on Monday concerning the conditions at the Cocke County Detention Center, which is located in the Cocke County Courthouse Annex and jail, which is located in the Cocke County Courthouse, from Circuit Court Judge Ben Hooper II. Present at the meeting were justice center committee members, Cocke County Mayor Iliff McMahan Jr., Cocke County Sheriff Claude Strange, Cocke County Legislative Body Commissioner Henry 'Skip' Gregory, Cocke County Finance Director Anne Williams and Cocke County Attorney Fletcher Ervin, as well as Hooper, Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge John Bell, Director of Court Services Jennifer Shelton, and Detention Center Assistant Director Janice Sexton. McMahan opened the meeting of the task force committee, which has been in place since last February and was charged with determining the best way for Cocke County to come into compliance with federal and state regulations regarding the detention center. McMahan informed the committee that Hooper requested to meet with them, so he could have a discussion concerning the conditions of detention center and how inmates are being cared for. "Judge Hooper informed me of some of the issues that are currently ongoing at the jail and that they are worst than we anticipated due to the overcrowding," said McMahan. "I was brought to the realization by Judge Hooper that our jail is worse than we thought it would be and something has to be done about it now before a federal court forces us to do it their way." McMahan closed his opening remarks by saying that Judge Hooper would also be attending the Cocke County Legislative Body meeting Monday night to discuss the issues with the entire CLB. Hooper said he wanted to talk to the committee about conditions at the jail in that there is no question that the jail is terribly overcrowded. "I don't know exactly to what extent, but I can tell you that the grand jury had 179 true bill indictments or presentments last week and we had to have a second called session later in the week," said Hooper. "The people working on the drug problem in this county are so understaffed it's pitiful." Hooper said 83.5 percent of the cases that the grand jury hears are drug and alcohol related, but mostly they are drug cases that are costing the county lots of money. "I am surprised we're having this much activity locally in the drug world, but we are and something has to be done about it," continued Hooper. "Our citizens' lives are being destroyed by drugs and it's unbelievable. The words are hard to find to tell you of the consequences of drug use and what it does to this community, as I have heard that six people died recently of drug related causes." Hooper said he would like to see the drug task force funds increased although he knows the county doesn't have anything to do with funding the drug task force. "We don't have a single officer on the drug task force and we should have at least four," said Hooper. "There is no telling what it costs the county each year in thefts due to drugs." Hooper said another area of concern to him is the jail. "Whose responsibility is it to take care of the prisoners?" asked Hooper. "The truth is it's Cocke County's responsibility. If someone has a serious medical issue, we release them on bond so we don't have to pay for their medical care. "That's a moral issue and it's wrong. I don't know exactly how I am going to deal with it yet, but I'd like to say that I hope I wouldn't have to do it anymore." Hooper said a federal court is going to come along sooner or later and force the county to do something about the jail because almost every county in the region has already had to. "I appreciate the stand that our county attorney has taken on this issue," said Hooper. "It's come to the time to do something because we aren't going to have anywhere to put the prisoners when our law enforcement officers catch them. "It's also disturbing to me to know that once we confine them that they do not have mats to sleep on and water is in the floor," continued Hooper. "The least you can do for them is to take care of their basic necessities. Somebody needs to get a grip on what's going on." Hooper said with the new sheriff and CLB members taking office, he has his hopes up for a change in the way things will be done. "We need to turn over a new leaf because it's time we moved and got things going," said Hooper. Ervin said he believes the only way for change to take place on the CLB is to get the people to demand it. "The people worry about their property taxes being raised and they are telling the CLB not to raise taxes," continued Ervin. "We must get the people to understand how important a new jail is to this county and them. We need the people to help us to take a stand with us and let the CLB members know how important it is to solve the jail situation." Ervin said this committee knows that the county is going to have to have a new jail. Gregory said he's right about the people telling us no new taxes. "The new members of the CLB ran on no new taxes and that was the biggest part of their campaign," said Gregory. "I don't see a lot of movement from the CLB unless you can get the people behind it." McMahan said Cocke County is one of the few counties left that hasn't been hit by a federal indictment. "Four years ago our jail had never been certified and wasn't planning to be," said McMahan. "People can say they won't raise taxes, but boy they realize soon that they have misstepped, after you realize what is going on. We could have lost our liability insurance at the sheriff's department and that brought everyone together to make sure the jail was certified. "I truly believe it's our job as the Justice Center Committee to bring forth the different options for the CLB to consider," said McMahan. "We also have to present it realistically because this is a serious place that we find ourselves, as Judge Hooper has made this clear in no uncertain terms." Strange said that the inmates are being taken care of properly, but sometimes they call their family members and tell them all sorts of things in an attempt to get out of jail. "We do have mats for the inmates, but recently they cut up the mats to use them for pillows and to stop up the plumbing, which caused the facility to flood," said Strange. "We took care of the situation and ordered more mats for the inmates that no longer had them because of what happened." "You ought to try to walk in our shoes and you'd see that we do not have enough money to take care of the problems that arise," said Cocke County Detention Center Assistant Administrator Janice Sexton. "We're very short of help and it's our responsibility to take care of the inmates and if we don't, then what's going to happen." McMahan said if the federal court has to come in and demand that "we build a new justice center, then it's going to cost us a lot more. "Grainger County had to pay $215,000 in court costs because they waited until they were indicted," said McMahan. "I'd like to see this CLB take a proactive approach and plan for the best possible solution. We not only have an overcrowded jail, we have an overcrowded court system, so we don't have enough room anywhere." McMahan said the judicial branch is stretched to the maximum now, so what are we going to do about it. "I want to make sure the plan we put together is one that we put together not something the federal court makes us do," continued McMahan. "If we're doing our job to be proactive and do our due diligence to fix what's wrong, then the state will be much more likely to go along with the plan that we develop." Ervin said that the county needs to acquire the land to put a jail on and then move forward. McMahan said they are looking at two sites and hope that the city will partner with the county to build the new justice center because it will be serving both the city and the county. "We need to be sure we build something that meets the needs of both the city and the county," said McMahan. "We need to plan for the future not the short-term fix. We would like to keep it downtown because we've seen what can happen when justice centers are located out in the county away from the judicial centers and it's much more costly." McMahan said there will have to be a compromrise and will have to work with the city. "We have had discussion concerning a regional jail and have looked at funding solutions, but nothing is set," said McMahan. "However, we have to move forward and get the ball rolling because I am surprised the federal courts haven't moved on us yet." Gregory said the new CLB has talked about this and the problem with the schools becoming overcrowded again. "There are some that would say let the federal courts do it and they can't blame me for raising taxes," said Gregory. "I think the CLB wants to be proactive and there might even be a majority that don't want the federal courts telling us what to do." McMahan said there has been talk on the CLB for a decade about this problem and if a solution isn't found before the federal courts come in, then it will be their fault because it will cost the county more money in the long run by waiting. "We need to do some soul searching and make some changes right now because no matter what you do to the present facilities, they will remain overcrowded and that's not going to change," said McMahan. Williams said if the county's detention center is decertified, then the sheriff's department will lose its liability insurance, which would be a disaster. McMahan said the county should address this now because Judge Hooper has made it plain what needs to be done. Williams said that the county also needs to consider making the new facility one-story because it's more cost effective and easier to maintain through the years. McMahan closed the meeting by saying we need to bring the city to the table and help us work on solving this serious problem before someone else makes us do it. "We invite everyone to the meetings and if you have an idea, then bring it," said McMahan. The next meeting of the Justice Center Committee is set for the Courthouse Annex on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at 1:30 p.m.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 21 Nov 2013.
Hooper shares memories of TN Gov. Hooper
©2013 NPT PHOTOS BY DUAY O'NEIL
Beth O. Freeman, right, welcomed Judge Ben W. Hooper as keynote speaker to the
Sunday meeting of Smoky Mountain Historical Society on Sunday, Nov. 17.
Author: Duay O'Neil
SEVIERVILLE—To the rest of the world, he was Tennessee's Former Governor Ben W. Hooper, but to Judge Ben. W. Hooper, II, he was "Granddaddy."
"Of course I grew up knowing he had served as Tennessee's governor," Judge Hooper said Sunday at the Smoky Mountain Historical Society’s November meeting, "but I truly didn't know much about his time in office until much later. He was my granddaddy."
The elder Hooper was elected Tennessee's governor in 1910 and sworn into office in 1911. He served two terms and was then defeated in his bid for a third term.
- [S112] Census, 1940.
Name: Benjamin W Hooper
Titles and Terms:
Event Type: Census
Event Date: 1940
Event Place: Civil District 4, Cocke, Tennessee, United States
Marital Status: Single
Race (Original): White
Relationship to Head of Household (Original): Son
Relationship to Head of Household: Son
Birth Year (Estimated): 1940
Last Place of Residence:
Family Number: 39
Sheet Number and Letter: 3A
Line Number: 18
Affiliate Publication Number: T627
Affiliate Film Number: 3881
Digital Folder Number: 005461287
Image Number: 00236
Household Gender Age Birthplace
Head Lemuel Hooper M 27 Tennessee
Wife Esther Hooper F 25 Florida
Daughter Dorthy Jo Hooper F 4 Indiana
Son Benjamin W Hooper M 0 Tennessee
- [S58] Marriage Certificate.
Name: Judith Kay Hawkins
Also Known As Name:
Event Type: Marriage
Event Date: 10 Sep 1961
Event Place: Hamblen, Tennessee, United States
Spouse's Name: Ben Walter Hooper
Spouse's Also Known As Name:
Spouse's Name Prefix:
Spouse's Name Suffix: Ii
- [S58] Marriage Certificate.
Name: Patsy Gonzales
Also Known As Name:
Event Type: Marriage
Event Date: 13 Jun 1975
Event Place: Cocke, Tennessee, United States
Spouse's Name: Ben W Hooper
Spouse's Also Known As Name:
Spouse's Name Prefix:
Spouse's Name Suffix: Ii