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A defendant who pleaded guilty in an aggravated assault case told a state probation officer he was "a businessman and too busy" to take time off his truck mechanic job to comply with a required meeting with a state probation officer. That meeting was required for judicial diversion status and the opportunity to have the charge removed from the defendant's permanent record.

Criminal Court Judge Gary McKenzie showed frustration with Steve James Jagneaux for attempting to get the probation office staff to fill out his paperwork and then walking out of the probation office without completing his paperwork.

"How do I do my job," McKenzie asked Jagneaux at a hearing last month. "I don't have a report. If you had been courteous, we wouldn't be here ... you have derailed the train because of your behavior with TDOC."

A hearing was held Nov. 4 to determine whether Jagneaux should be granted judicial diversion. He pleaded guilty in the assault case on Sept. 9. The charge stems from a domestic situation that turned violent, according to Assistant District Attorney Philip Hatch.

Jagneaux should have qualified for judicial diversion. All he had to do was go to the Tennessee Department of Corrections probation office in Crossville and fill out the required forms.

Those forms are sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation which conducts a background check. If qualified, the TBI then issues a certificate that is presented to the court attesting that the defendant qualifies for diversion.

TDOC Probation Officer Dannon Stickler testified she was charged with filing a pre-sentence report for Jagneaux but because of problems obtaining information from the defendant, an Oct. 13 hearing was delayed.

Jagneaux called that morning and said he had not completed the paperwork "because he was a very, very busy businessman."

A date was set for Jagneaux to come to the probation office was made but Jagneaux was late. When he did arrive, Stickler testified, he told the receptionist, "I'm here to meet a woman about a damn report." She described what followed as being contentious, refusing to wear a mask in the office, and leaving, telling the receptionist he was going to see his attorney.

Jagneaux complained the required questionnaire as "very invasive" and the he was, "a very busy businessman and don't have time to jump through hoops."

Defense attorney Kevin Bryant called Jagneaux’s wife, Sarah, who testified the couple had been married over eight years and that her husband was a diesel mechanic who performed road-side service work and kept non-traditional work hours.

She said the charges stemmed from a domestic dispute that culminated when she was found by her husband with another man. She described the relationship with the other man as a friendship that evolved into harassment and stalking by that man.

In his statement of elocution to the court, not subject to questioning by prosecutors, Jagneaux told the judge, "I never thought I would find myself in this." He added that he had never been in trouble "in my life."

He concluded that he believed he was a good candidate for judicial diversion but just was "frustrated with the (entire) situation."

Hatch argued against diversion, based on the testimony and Jagneaux's unwillingness to meet with the probation officer and fill out the required paper work.

Bryant argued that his client had reconciled differences with his wife, that he was very protective of his family and that he had not had any trouble for the two years since the incident occurred.

McKenzie had the last word. "It is not a great overreach to write down the information (in the questionnaire) and send it back to TDOC. Fill out the papers.”

McKenzie then continued the hearing to Wednesday of this week to "see if he can show he can exhibit good behavior." McKenzie also made it a condition that Jagneaux have no guns in the home or have access to weapons.

Michael Moser may be reached at mmoser@crossville-chronicle.com

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