published Monday, April 12th, 2010

Epstein running for chancellor


by Monica Mercer
Audio clip

Valerie Epstein

A Chattanooga attorney has announced her candidacy in the Aug. 5 special election to replace Howell Peoples on the Hamilton County Chancery Court.

Valerie Epstein, an attorney with Berke, Berke and Berke, said one of her main goals if elected would be to put in place an electronic filing system for Chancery Court.

Chancery Court handles will and estate cases and civil disputes involving money. Ms. Epstein said electronic filing and the ability to see court documents online is a vital service.

PDF: Epstein Application

COURT CHOICES

The three nominees to fill the vacant Chancery Court judgeship leading up to the Aug. 5 special election include Arthur Grisham, Joe E. Manuel and Jeffrey M. Atherton.

Easier access to court documents, Ms. Epstein said, would "give people guidance before deciding to file a suit or help them understand what the court's opinion is on a particular issue."

Ms. Epstein has practiced law in Chattanooga for 20 years. She describes herself as a "moderate Democrat," but said it is unfortunate that state judicial elections are partisan.

"My goal is to serve Hamilton County. Political affiliation shouldn't matter. Cases must be decided on the facts and the law," Ms. Epstein said.

She is the vice chairwoman of the board of local PBS station WTCI-Channel 45 and often lends her legal expertise to the organization.

"She is integral as one of the best community leaders we have ever had to volunteer for the station," said WTCI President and CEO Paul Grove.

Ms. Epstein said she welcomes discussion with the public regarding improvements that will help Chancery Court. She can be contacted on Facebook and through her Web site, www.voteepstein.com.

Chancellor Peoples retired March 31 after 32 years of service. Local attorneys Arthur Grisham, Joe E. Manuel and Jeffrey M. Atherton have been nominated to serve as interim chancellor until the election but Gov. Phil Bredesen has not yet made an appointment.

Senior retired Judge Donald Paul Harris, of Franklin, Tenn., is filling the gap in the meantime.

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