published Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Case against Chattanooga City Court Judge Sherry Paty's son sent to grand jury; some charges dismissed

Charges of public intoxication and underage drinking against the son of a local judge were forwarded to a Hamilton County grand jury Wednesday. A charge of resisting arrest was dismissed.

Zachary Paty, 19, son of Chattanooga City Court Judge Sherry Paty, along with Mark Harden, 20, and Alexander Card, 19, faced charges related to a Jan. 4 arrest outside the Days Inn on Lee Highway.

In a General Sessions Court hearing, Hamilton County deputy sheriff Donnie Myrick testified he saw a dark-colored SUV backed up to a U-Haul trailer in the back of the hotel.

Myrick testified that he smelled alcohol and recognized the driver, Card, whom he'd stopped two weeks before. Myrick handcuffed Card and found a bag of suspected marijuana and cocaine in his clothes. Those items still are being tested at the state drug lab.

Myrick said Paty got out of the car, smelling of alcohol and slurring his speech, so the deputy handcuffed him, too. Harden tried to run but was caught and handcuffed, but while Myrick and his partner were doing that, he said, Paty ran at them screaming.

Bledsoe County General Sessions Judge Howard L. Upchurch oversaw the hearing because it involved a local judge's relative. Ninth Judicial District Assistant District Attorney Bill Reedy is serving as prosecutor in the case for the same reason.

Drug charges against Harden were dismissed, but his resisting arrest charge was sent to the grand jury. Charges against Card for drug possession, underage drinking and public intoxication also were sent to the grand jury.

Card also has a pending marijuana charge from July 2012 and another from November, records show.

Paty and Card are free on bond. Harden is being held in the Hamilton County Jail on unrelated charges of weapons possession and aggravated burglary.

Zachary Paty's attorney, Martin Levitt, challenged whether Myrick had probable cause to approach the SUV in the first place.

"At the time you approached the vehicle you had no specific evidence that any crime had been committed," Levitt said. "You just thought you'd look in and see what was going on."

Myrick said he's made drug arrests at the hotel and nearby areas. He said there have been 500 calls for police to that hotel in the past three years.

Levitt also claimed Zachary Paty was yelling at Myrick to "stop beating this black guy, he's not resisting."

Myrick said all he heard was Paty screaming, and he was worried about what the handcuffed teenager might try to do.

Zachary Paty was charged with underage drinking in July 2012, that charge was passed on good behavior.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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