Note: This story was updated at 11:55 a.m. Jan. 21.
William Lawrence Tunnell, an alternate Oak Ridge city judge who is believed to be the oldest practicing attorney in Tennessee, was arrested January 13 for allegedly hitting a man with his car and knocking him to the ground in November.
Tunnell, 94, has been charged with one count of aggravated assault. He has a hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge.
(Update: Anderson County General Sessions Court Judge Roger Miller has recused himself from hearing this case, and a special judge will be appointed. A new hearing date had not been set as of Wednesday morning.)
According to an arrest warrant, the incident occurred Friday evening, November 21, at the intersection of West Outer Drive and Waltham Lane.
Witnesses and victim Charles Smallwood said Tunnell had fallen while walking back to his vehicle, Oak Ridge Police Department Officer Ray Steakley said in the warrant. They said they helped Tunnell to his feet and then back to his vehicle. The witnesses and victim said they noticed a large cut on the back of Tunnell’s head and tried to get him to stay at the scene until medical personnel could respond.
Smallwood told Steakley that he stepped in front of Tunnell’s vehicle to prevent him from leaving, the warrant said.
“At that point, Tunnell stated ‘Move, you son of a bitch, or I will run you over,'” the warrant said. “At that time, Tunnell placed his vehicle in the drive position and struck the victim, knocking him to the ground.”
Smallwood was taken by ambulance to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.
Steakley said one witness confirmed Smallwood’s account.
But Tunnell, who was released shortly after his January 13 arrest, disputed the assault allegation early Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m not guilty of anything,” he said. “That’s all not true.”
Tunnell, who is a World War II veteran and also the oldest judge in Tennessee, referred a reporter to attorney Bob Wilkinson for additional comment. Wilkinson, who is representing Tunnell, was not available for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Tunnell has practiced law for more than six decades. He is on the list to be an alternate city judge but hasn’t served in a while, probably for at least a year, according to the Oak Ridge City Court Clerk.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
Copyright 2015 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.