Clayton County

A lawyer suffered a stroke and missed court. A Clayton County judge chewed him out on national TV.

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — An attorney who had a stroke and couldn’t make it to court is speaking only to Channel 2 Action News about the tongue-lashing he got from the judge.

Matt Tucker is representing Hannah Payne, who is accused of shooting and killing 62-year-old Kenneth Herring while she was trying to make a citizens arrest after Herring was involved in a hit-and-run accident in 2019.

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Jury selection in Payne’s murder trial was supposed to start Monday, but Tucker couldn’t make it to court due to the medical emergency. There is no word when the trial might go forward.

Channel 2′s Tom Jones spoke to Tucker, who is still recovering in the hospital. Tucker is upset because he says Judge Shana Rooks Malone lit into him on national television, saying she was going to hold him in contempt of court because of his “behavior.”


“You need to seriously seek new counsel,” Malone told Payne. “He’s doing you a disservice because you’ve been here. We’re ready to start a trial today.”

Tucker said he was stunned.

“I was astonished. I couldn’t believe it,” Tucker said. “She kind of made me look real bad on TV.”

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Payne told Malone that Tucker had suffered a stroke Saturday and that he was in the hospital. The judge said that Tucker never contacted her office.

Tucker said his office emailed the court to let the staff know he had a medical emergency. He just doesn’t understand why the judge refused to accept what Payne told her.

“I’ve never lied to the court,” Tucker said. “I’m an officer of the court. It is not a disservice. We’ve been waiting on this trail for three years.”

Tucker said he and Payne are now concerned that she may not get a fair trial. Tucker said he may file a motion to remove Malone from the case.