By Dick Cook Staff Writer
JASPER, Tenn. Judge Clifford Layne and Mark Raines will face off in the Democratic primary May 2 for Marion County General Sessions Court Judge.
Election officials said there is no Republican candidate, so the winner of the primary will serve as judge for the next eight years.
Judge Layne, 74, has served as Sessions Court Judge since 1974, records show. Earlier this year he said he would not seek a fifth term, but he changed his mind.
Im in good health and capable and confident that I can serve another term, Judge Layne said Monday.
The U.S. Navy veteran said he dropped out of Tennessee Technological University to volunteer for the service. While in the Navy, he married Betty, his wife of 54 years.
Upon returning to Marion County, he opened an auto body shop.
Judge Layne said he was one of the last judges in Tennessee not to have a law degree. He did, however, obtain a Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Ive always been fair with people, and I hope the people feel that Ive done a good job, he said. As a judge, you dont always enjoy what you do, but it is a job that has to be done.
Judge Layne said there are very few promises a judge is allowed to make in a political campaign.
I promise to uphold the law as it is written, he said. Whether you agree with the law or dont, you are sworn to uphold it.
Mr. Raines, 41, is a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he was a helicopter pilot in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He has a wife, Beverly, and three sons.
Mr. Raines said he earned a degree in criminal justice from UTC and after leaving the army got his law degree from the Nashville School of Law. He has been practicing law in Marion County since 1996.
Mr. Raines said becoming a judge had been a goal since law school.
I have nothing but respect for Judge Layne, Mr. Raines said. Im running because I think its time for my generation to stand up and take responsibility.
Mr. Raines said that as judge he would like to see drug offenders, particularly people convicted of methamphetamine crimes, have a rehabilitation component attached to their probation.
He said the vast majority of crime is driven by drug abuse.
It may not work for everybody, but if we could help one or two people out of the hundreds who are hooked on drugs, I think it would be worth it.
People dont realize the costs to society, he said.
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