BY KEN LITTLE
A preliminary hearing in the domestic assault case involving state Rep. David Hawk, R-5th of Greeneville, has been continued from Monday to Sept. 11, court officials said.
Meanwhile, District Attorney General C. Berkeley Bell has recused himself from the case and a special prosecutor has been appointed.
He is Joseph D. Baugh, a lawyer in private practice in Franklin who served as district attorney general in the 21st Judicial District in the 1980s and 1990s.
Hawk, 44, is running for re-election to his state house seat.
The primary election is Aug. 2 and three other Republican candidates are opposing Hawk, but he said Friday that is not the reason the case was continued.
Baugh, who was appointed as prosecutor on June 26, requested that the case be continued, Hawk said.
"This came about because of the recusal of the district attorney. This was the reason for the delay. It was nothing that we requested," Hawk said Friday.
In addition to Bell, General Sessions Court Judge Kenneth Bailey Jr. recused himself from the case shortly after the domestic assault charge was filed March 18 against Hawk by his wife, Crystal Goans Hawk.
Judge James Nidiffer, a general sessions court judge in Washington County, is handling the case.
"We have a new prosecutor involved in the case since Mr. Bell's office recused himself and we just had to find a date for the new prosecutor and the judge and all the parties to come in and that was the first date that was available," said Tom Dillard, the Knoxville lawyer representing Hawk.
The Aug. 2 primary "wasn't a factor at all. We had to accommodate [Nidiffer's] schedule. He was very busy in his own court and that's the first date everybody was available," Dillard said. "It was trying to get a date to satisfy everybody involved."
Since his initial appearance in court March 19, Hawk's case has been continued twice.
Hawk was charged with domestic assault following an altercation with his wife at the couple's Tusculum home, according to reports by sheriff's deputies.
Hawk's wife is a Greeneville attorney and the current president of the Greene County Republican Women. She told deputies that her husband struck her in the face with his hand, knocking her to the ground, a report said.
Hawk, a five-term member of the state House of Representatives, pleaded not guilty to the charge the day after the incident.
"I've proclaimed my innocence and I wish that the process was moving faster," he said Friday.
Hawk wrote in a statement released after his arrest in March that during the altercation, "my wife had a gun and told me she was going to put a bullet in my head while I was holding my baby. At that time, I escaped to safety with my daughter."
The Greene County Sheriff's Department has received no official indication that a gun was involved during the domestic altercation between Hawk and his wife, according to the initial and follow-up reports.
Bell said Friday that he requested last month to be recused from the case.
"We handle the request and we find someone else to take it," Angie Gasser, executive assistant for the Nashville-based Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, said Friday.
Grant funds are available to appoint former prosecutors in such cases, Gasser said.
"Normally what's done if a D.A. has a conflict we will get somebody from a district nearby to cover it, but if it's going to take up a lot of districts' time then we will go to this grant-funded pool of attorneys and they will handle the case," she said.