published Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Longtime prosecutor sworn in as Hamilton County General Sessions Court judge

Judge Clarence Shattuck hugs Lila Statom after swearing her in as the new General Sessions judge with her husband Harry Spillman by her side in Shattuck's courtroom at the Hamilton County-Chattanooga Courts Building early Monday morning. Statom replaces Ron Durby, who stepped aside for health reasons.
Judge Clarence Shattuck hugs Lila Statom after swearing her in as the new General Sessions judge with her husband Harry Spillman by her side in Shattuck's courtroom at the Hamilton County-Chattanooga Courts Building early Monday morning. Statom replaces Ron Durby, who stepped aside for health reasons.
Photo by Dan Henry.

Lila Statom didn't waste any time.

The 14-year prosecutor got a call at 3:45 p.m. Friday from Gov. Bill Haslam's office, notifying her that she had been selected as General Sessions Court judge to fill in for Judge Ronald Durby, who went on leave due to illness in October.

At about 9 p.m. Saturday, Sessions Judge Clarence Shattuck got a call. It was Statom, asking if she could be sworn in first thing Monday morning.

At 9 a.m. a crowded courtroom awaited Shattuck and Statom.

After a few comments, Shattuck read the oath of office, which Statom repeated. She thanked the governor, her family, friends and colleagues and then turned to the crowd.

"Thank y'all for being here. Let's get to work," she said.

Statom was one of 15 applicants for the position. She, Ron Powers and Joe DeGaetano were three finalists interviewed by the governor in recent weeks.

The past year has been a fluid one for Hamilton County General Sessions Court, Shattuck mentioned in his remarks.

In January, Judge Bob Moon died suddenly of a heart condition, leaving an open seat quickly filled by the Hamilton County Commission with the appointment of Soddy-Daisy Judge David Norton.

Norton and six other candidates ran for the office, and challenger Gary Starnes won the seat in the Aug. 2 county election.

Durby's absence at this time is considered temporary. If he takes permanent leave of office, then Statom will continue to serve as judge until the term expires in 2014.

She and the four other Sessions Court judges must run for re-election that year.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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