Twelve attorneys are seeking to replace the late Judge Bob Moon on the General Sessions bench, including one who wants to be a caretaker until a special election this August.
A chief magistrate, an arbitrator, a current and several former prosecutors, a civil trial attorney and a city judge are applying for the position, which pays about $156,000 a year. Friday was the application deadline.
A General Sessions Court judge hears both civil and criminal cases. The judge can accept pleas in misdemeanor cases and rule whether there is probable cause to send felony criminal charges to the grand jury.
The Hamilton County Commission plans to appoint an interim judge March 1, who will serve until a special election Aug. 2.
Bryan Hoss, a partner in the firm Davis & Hoss, P.C., said he decided to apply on Feb. 4 after reading that local officials said Assistant County Attorney David Norton was emerging as a front-runner even before the application period closed.
“I think everybody’s concerned that decisions have been prejudged,” Hoss said. “It’s up to the county. If they want to allow the voters to pick the next judge, they’ll pick a caretaker.”
Other attorneys in the running include Larry Ables, W. Lloyd Stanley, Lila Statom, Gary W. Starnes, Patricia Best Vital, Ron D. Powers, Rodney Strong, Robert Philyaw, Valerie Epstein and Michael Acuff.
Norton, a 27-year legal veteran who has served as a municipal judge in Soddy-Daisy since 1985, applied for the General Sessions post last week. Many attorneys want to serve on the bench, Norton said, including him.
He said he wishes statements about his potential status hadn’t been made public because, for him, the application isn’t political.
“A number of them I’ve represented over the years,” Norton said of county commissioners.
He has scheduled interviews with commissioners Larry Henry and Chester Bankston for Monday, but Norton said he won’t know what commissioners will do until the March 1 vote.
“I would be flattered to be the front-runner,” he said.
Staff writer Todd South contributed to this story.
• LARRY W. ABLES
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, B.S. in public administration, 1999
Florida Coastal School of Law, J.D., 2003
Chief judicial commissioner, 2007-present
Larry W. Ables II P.C., 2007-present
Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office, assistant district attorney, 2004-07
Crutchfield, Benson & Pope, 2003-04
• MICHAEL L. ACUFF
East Tennessee State University, B.S. in psychology, 1981
University of Tennessee College of Law, J.D., 1986
Military defense attorney/Army deputy, 2008-present
Solo practitioner, private practice, 2006-2008
Hamilton County District Public Defender’s Office, assistant public defender, 1995-2006
Jahn, Jahn, Cavett & Maddux law firm, associate, 1990-1992
U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, attorney/officer, 1987-1990
• VALERIE W. EPSTEIN
Emory University, B.S. in psychology
University of Tennessee College of Law
Berke, Berke & Berke, 2005-present
Arb-Med LLC, owner
Unum Insurance Co., in-house counsel
Miller and Martin, law clerk
• BRYAN H. HOSS
University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, J.D. May 2001
Denison University, B.A. in English and history, May 1997
Davis & Hoss, P.C., partner since 2005, associate from 2001-05
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, adjunct professor since 2008
Monroe, Kaufman & McGhee, law clerk 1999-2001
Davis for District Attorney, 1998
• DAVID W. NORTON
University of Tennessee, 1972
Memphis State University, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, J.D., 1975
General practice, 1977-present
Hamilton County Attorney’s Office, 1983-present
Soddy-Daisy city judge, 1985-present
• ROBERT D. PHILYAW
Motlow State Community College
Christian Brothers University, B.S. in management, 1995
Buckman School of Management, Christian Brothers University, M.B.A, 1997
University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, J.D., 2001
Lawyer in private practice, 2002-present
Judge, city of Graysville, Tenn., 2010-present
Shumacker & Thompson, attorney, 2001-2002
Shumacker & Thompson, law clerk, 2000
• RON D. POWERS
University of Tennessee, B.S. in communications, 1988
Memphis State University, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, J.D., 1991
Baker, Donelson, Caldwell & Berkowitz, attorney, 2006-present
Schumacker Witt Gaither & Whitaker, attorney, 1997-1999
Dietrich, Dietrich & Powers, attorney, 1991-1996
• W. LLOYD STANLEY
University of Tennessee, B.S. in business administration, 1962
University of Tennessee College of Law, 1965
Private practice, 1974-present
Small Business Administration, trustee, present
Department of Justice, assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, 1969-74
U.S. Air Force, judge advocate, 1966-69
• GARY W. STARNES
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, B.S. in education, 1981
University of Tennessee College of Law, J.D., 1986
Gary W. Starnes, attorney-at-law, 1993-present
Spears, Moore, Rebman & Williams, P.C., 1987-1993
• LILA STATOM
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, B.S. in political science, 1984
Memphis State University, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, J.D., 1988
Emory University, LLM in litigation, 1989
Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office, assistant district attorney, 1998-present
Davidson County District Attorney’s Office, assistant district attorney, 1989-1998
Rieves & Mayton, law clerk, 1987-88
• RODNEY C. STRONG
East Tennessee State University, B.S., 1974
Cumberland School of Law, Samford University, J.D., 1978
Hamilton County District Attorney General’s Office, 1988-present
Attorney in private practice, 1978-1988
• PATRICIA BEST VITAL
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, B.A. in English/American language and literature
University of Tennessee College of Law, J.D., 1992
Vital Law Office & Dispute Resolution Services, 1993-present
Tennessee Education Lottery Corp., external collection legal counsel, 2009-present
Lusk, Carter & McGhehey, law clerk and later associate, 1990-93
Hamilton County Attorney’s Office, law clerk, summer 1990
Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...
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