published Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Cronyism and Durby's seat

On Tuesday, Hamilton County Sessions Judge Ron Durby announced that he is stepping away — temporarily, he hopes — to address an unspecified medical condition. We wish Durby nothing but the best in his recovery and hope he returns to the bench.

But he won't.

Not because he won't be able to, but because Durby's decision to step aside is seemingly part of a carefully orchestrated scheme by Hamilton County insiders to ensure that former Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey and other local power brokers can determine who holds the seat going forward.

Apparently Durby's exit has been months in the making. If he left too early, his seat would've filled during the August election. If Durby officially retired, his seat would've been filled by the Hamilton County Commission.

By leaving after the August election and claiming he plans to only step aside temporarily — despite the fact that there is no compelling evidence that he expects, or desires, to return to the bench — state law allows the governor to appoint the temporary replacement.

So what's the big deal?

Well, commonsense dictates that Gov. Bill Haslam will defer to his deputy governor on the issue of appointing a judge in Hamilton County. After all, Haslam's deputy governor happens to be former Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey. Since Ramsey has been a powerful ally to Durby during his career as a judge, could it be that an agreement was struck between Ramsey and Durby to ultimately empower Ramsey with the opportunity to decide who will fill Durby's post in Sessions Court? It seems logical.

It also seems logical that Ramsey will use his sway in the process to encourage Haslam to appoint another of his cronies to the bench. The name most commonly mentioned is Collegedale Municipal Court Judge Kevin Wilson.

If Wilson, or another Ramsey ally, is named temporary Sessions Court judge and Durby does not return to the bench, the temporary judge would have the advantage of running as an incumbent in the 2014 judicial elections — making election to a full term as Sessions Court judge an easy proposition.

Sure, none of this could happen. But this is Hamilton County, and if a back room deal can be made to benefit friends and political allies can happen, it generally will happen.

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aae1049 said...

Note to Harrison Courthouse Mafia-Breath deep and slow so you don't pass out.

October 4, 2012 at 12:56 a.m.
richarddawkins said...

Don't know anything about Kevin Wilson, save that he's not Jim Fields.

Which is good enough for me.

Also Re 'cronyism' one thing you have to understand is that you're going to get a crony regardless, it's just a questions of who's crony.

Is a Commission Crony preferable to a Ramsey crony?

I doubt it

October 4, 2012 at 1:10 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Sadly, the voters could have selected the next replacement instead of the cronies. There was ample time prior to August election to get this on the ballot, but it appears they intentionally waited to ensure an election would not occur. That is the sink of it all.

October 4, 2012 at 1:21 a.m.
Salsa said...

I see a lot of speculation but few facts. Typical.

October 4, 2012 at 10:21 a.m.
mv said...

In my opinion, the saddest part of this discussion is that the public career of Judge Durby has not been recognized. He should be praised for his lengthy service to the community. I for one appreciate him.

October 4, 2012 at 6:57 p.m.
timbo said...

There is more corruption and politics in the selection of judges than almost any other office. This is no surprise but still disappointing.

Corruptanooga.

October 5, 2012 at 10:21 a.m.
timbo said...

Also, the same crap was pulled when Ramsey became county mayor. Dalton Roberts resigned half way through his term...a new Winnebago showed up at his house and the commissioners put their man in and we got stuck with Ramsey for all these years.

Drew, this is nothing new just a continuation of the same old corruption that has plagued this city/county for years.

October 5, 2012 at 10:31 a.m.
Barrabbo said...

I read the editorial dated October 4, 2012 titled “Cronyism and Durby’s seat” with amazement. My amazement comes from the complete absence of factual support to base the editor’s conclusion that the fix is in for Collegedale Municipal Judge Kevin Wilson to be appointed by the Governor to replace General Sessions Judge Ron Durby who is taking a medical leave of absence from the bench. An editorial is certainly an opinion piece and entitled to broad latitude in reaching conclusions; however, does it not seem appropriate that there should be some factual basis for such strong conclusions? Cronyism? Really? How in the world is it that Judge Wilson is “another [Claude] Ramsey ally”? Is this something you just know? Or is it something that is just “commonly mentioned”? If so, by whom? Would it surprise you to know that Judge Wilson and Claude Ramsey hardly know one another? I happen to know that to be a fact. Kevin Wilson is no “crony” and has never been a “Ramsey ally” (if there is such a thing).
I know Kevin Wilson personally and professionally. I have known him for close to 20 years. Kevin is hard working, fair and honest. He is an excellent Judge (having been the Collegedale Municipal Judge for approximately 24 years). Kevin Wilson would make an excellent General Sessions Judge to replace Judge Durby while he is on medical disability. Wouldn’t that be a better reason for the Governor to appoint Kevin Wilson to replace Judge Durby than some speculative connection made by your editor on the basis of, well, nothing? Come on, take some pride in yourself, the opinion you provide is only valuable if it is credible. Unfortunately, in this piece, it is not.

October 5, 2012 at 12:45 p.m.
timbo said...

Barrabbo....Come on...your joking right? You can't be serious.

Everytime someone in this town tells the truth someone sends a letter like this with this fake outrage. I think it is the same letter with the name changed. No one has "proof" because this is not court. You have to rely on common sense.

If you think that a bunch of these guys don't get together and support someone they can "deal" with you are about the most naive person on earth.

I don't know if the fix is in for Kevin Wilson but I do know from past examples that the fix is in for SOMEBODY. The choice won't be made for any of the reasons you cited.

This isn't court, and opinions are based on a lot of things, least of which is the public's past experiences with this type of unethical behavior.

In order to shut people up, someone like you would call Drew or someone like me a conspiracy theorist. You know, we see black helicopters everywhere. Well, conspiracies happen every day. Go down to the court house and stick you head in the court rooms and you will find that out but coincidences are rare. So when they happen over and over again just like this situation and it turns out the same time after time, well it ain't no coincidence.

I might be a conspiracy theorist but at least I am not a coincidence theorist.

Drew, keep up the good work. Let's try to throw the bums out.

October 5, 2012 at 2:24 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Exactly, Timbo. Almost all the Judges start as appointments by design. This one is not exception. It is common knowledge that Kevin Wilson is the power structure pick.

October 5, 2012 at 3:55 p.m.
mv said...

I am constantly amazed at the individuals who post with complete knowledge of who the 'power structure' wants in office. Could it be they are part of the effort to place a particular candidate in the position?

October 6, 2012 at 10:34 a.m.
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