Chattanooga attorneys Thomas Crutchfield and Steven W. Grant are competing for the Democratic nomination to the fill the Circuit Court vacancy created by the retirement of the veteran and well-respected Judge Sam Payne. Mr. Grant is the better choice in the May 2 primary election.
The winner will face W. Jeffrey Hollingsworth, who has no opposition in the Republican primary, in the Aug. 3 general election.
Mr. Crutchfield is an experienced lawyer with a broad practice and high visibility in the community. But Mr. Grant is a more energetic individual whose practice in domestic law and whose expressed interest in public and civic service make him especially qualified for the position he seeks.
Mr. Grant has represented clients in a variety of domestic proceedings such as divorce and custody disputes. He’s also spent considerable time in estate planning and administration. That experience gives him a particular empathy for individuals and families in turmoil. It also will serve him well in Circuit Court, where a majority of the caseload is composed of often volatile and complicated domestic issues.
Circuit Court is an extremely busy place and it sometimes takes what seems to many to be a surprisingly long time for cases to be heard and for resolution to be achieved. A judge’s main responsibility, and rightly so, is to maintain an orderly courtroom, to explain the law and to administer it fairly. But a jurist’s work doesn’t stop there. It should extend to seeking improvements in the efficient administration of justice while remaining within the legislative framework under which all courts must operate.
To that end, Mr. Grant is willing to explore avenues that might improve the courts’ efficiency. That includes, he says, streamlining the scheduling and filing processes and the development and implementation of new technologies for use in the courtroom. There’s no certainty that such improvements are possible or, indeed, would prove useful, but a willingness to pursue any course of action that benefits the courts and the people they serve is welcome.
Though the contest for the nomination for the Circuit Court judgeship has been low-key and civil, questions have been raised —; not by Mr. Crutchfield, but others —; about Mr. Grant’s relative youth and the perceived lack of his professional seasoning. Mr. Crutchfield, it is true, has far more experience in the law and many more years of practice than his opponent, but age and longevity do not necessarily translate into superior qualifications.
The germane question in any contest for a judgeship is not how long an attorney has worked, but how well he or she knows the law and the skill with which they practice it. In this instance, Mr. Grant has the requisite combination of skills and interests to serve the community ably as a Circuit Court judge.
We encourage his nomination in the May 2 primary.