DA Matt Stowe censured, accused of harassing witness

CARROLL COUNTY, Tenn. — Matt Stowe, district attorney general for the 24th Judicial District, has been publicly censured by order of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Matt Stowe

A public censure is a rebuke and warning to the lawyer but does not affect the lawyer’s ability to practice law, according to a release from the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee.

The Board of Professional Responsibility filed a petition for discipline against Stowe Feb. 26, 2016, based on one count of misconduct, according to the release.

“The complaint alleged that Mr. Stowe engaged in multiple acts of harassment that had no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a witness,” the release states.

Stowe was working with a witness to secure her testimony in a murder trial, according to the release.

The witness had informed Stowe’s office of a potential scheduling conflict but had been told she must appear as scheduled.

“Despite the witness’s agreement with the Assistant District Attorney to attend the trial as scheduled, Mr. Stowe began directly communicating with the witness and her supervisor in a harassing and hostile manner and stated that he would hold her personally responsible if she ‘blow[s] this trial,'” the release states. “Mr. Stowe indicated that he would prosecute her if she failed to appear and directed his office to begin preparation for those charges, even though he knew she had confirmed her appearance.”

“As a result of Mr. Stowe’s harassment, the witness retained private counsel to accompany her to the trial as a precaution because she was concerned that if her testimony did not satisfy Mr. Stowe, he would take some kind of action against her,” the release states.

An evidentiary panel was held, and the panel concluded Stowe violated Rules of Professional Conduct 4.4(a)(1), Respect for the Rights of Third Persons and 8.4(a) and (d), Misconduct, according to the release.

The Tennessee Supreme Court publicly censured Stowe as a result. Stowe is ordered to pay costs to the Board of Professional Responsibility.