Nashville, TN – A Tennessee district attorney has refused to comment after a video surfaced that showed him declaring he will not pursue domestic violence charges in cases where the victim is homosexual.
“Y’all need to know who your DA is,” Northcott told the crowd at the time. “You give us a lot of authority…We can choose to prosecute anything. We can choose not to prosecute anything.”
Northcott, who has served as the district attorney general since 2014, said that he disagrees with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to recognize “homosexual marriage.”
Tennessee law provides enhanced punishments for domestic assault convictions, but Northcott said that his “prosecutorial discretion” empowers him to forgo filing such charges in cases of same-sex relationships.
"The reason that there's enhanced punishment on domestic violence is to recognize and protect the sanctity of marriage,” he told the crowd, according to WTVF. “And I said there's no marriage to protect. So, I don't prosecute them as domestics."
Instead, he said he prosecutes such cases as regular assault offenses.
On Wednesday, approximately 200 Tennessee lawyers voiced their outrage in a letter to the state’s Board of Professional Responsibility, The Washington Post reported.
“We find this disturbing and unacceptable on multiple levels, the least of which being Mr. Northcott’s misunderstanding of domestic violence law in the State of Tennessee, where marriage or even romantic status is not an essential element for a charge of domestic assault,” the letter read.
Incidents between current and former roommates and even distant relatives qualify for domestic violence charges.
A person could be 50 years old and punch their old college roommate, and that's domestic violence assault under state law.
Current and former dating relationships also qualify, making marital status irrelevant.
The attorneys called Northcott’s position “unethical,” and declared that it was “the highest level of prosecutorial misconduct and abuse of discretion.”
“By specifically singling out two groups on different occasions and expressly rejecting equal protection for these groups, there is more than merely an ‘appearance’ of bias against them,” the letter read, according to The Tennessean. “Additionally, every other minority or protected group he may not deem worthy is at risk.”
"He sounds like a crackpot, frankly, when he says that," Tennessee Equality Project spokesperson Chris Sanders told WTVF.
“Survivors rely on those charged with enforcement of the law to protect them,” Sanders railed. “And, in this case, it looks like we have a district attorney who is willfully ignoring the marital status, the relationships of members in our community and not protecting them fully.”
Critics also blasted Northcott two months ago, after he declared that Muslims have “no constitutional rights,” The Washington Post reported.
“There are only God-given rights protected by the Constitution. If you don’t believe in the one true God, there is nothing to protect,” he said at the time.
The Constitution explicitly states that all people within the jurisdiction of the United States have constitutional rights.
In a Facebook post, Northcott also wrote that Muslims are “evil because they profess a commitment to an evil belief system,” according to WTVF.
Sanders said that Northcott appears to be trying to conduct himself “as God’s instrument.”
"He is the one being the social engineer, picking and choosing which parts of the law he will enforce," he noted.