More Nominating Commission Controversy in Tennessee (Updated)

June 10, 2013

As IAALS Online has covered in the past, the Tennessee legislature opted not to renew the state's judicial nominating commission, and it is set to expire on June 30. Three appellate judges announced last week that they will not stand for retention in August 2014, with the expectation that the commission could screen applicants and nominate candidates to fill their vacancies before it ceases to exist in a few weeks. While Governor Haslam has agreed to appoint commission nominees, at least one legislator is concerned about setting the judicial selection process in motion more than a year before the vacancies occur. Senator Mike Bell's primary concern is that applicants who continue working as attorneys may take up cases that later come before them as appellate judges, but according to the Administrative Office of the Courts, the commission's action is appropriate.

UPDATED 6/12/13: An attorney who has mounted several legal challenges to Tennessee's judicial selection process in the past has filed a lawsuit to block appointments to fill the vacancies created by these three judges' retirement in August 2014. John Jay Hooker contends that this would deprive voters of their constitutional right to elect their judges.