published Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Democrats nominate Epstein for chancellor

The Hamilton County Democratic Party selected a local attorney Saturday as its candidate for the vacant judgeship on the county's Chancery Court.

Valerie Epstein, an attorney with Berke, Berke and Berke, will represent her party in the Aug. 5 election to fill the vacancy left by longtime Chancellor Howell Peoples.

"I think after 175 years, it's time for a woman in Chancery Court," Ms. Epstein said. "Chancery Court is the only court in Hamilton County that's never had a woman serve on the bench."

Chancery Court is where probate matters and general disputes over money are resolved.

Legal fights between the city and county also generally are litigated in the court.

The judicial race began earlier this year following the surprise announcement that Chancellor Peoples would retire at the end of March, four years before his term ends.

Ms. Esptein will face Republican Jeffrey Atherton, a private Chattanooga attorney who has practiced in local courts for 22 years, in the Aug. 5 election.

The winner will serve out the remainder of Chancellor Peoples' term, which expires in 2014.

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