Legal opinion says ending Tennessee plan for appellate judges could create problems

Legal opinion says ending Tennessee plan for appellate judges could create problems

March 27th, 2009 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

NASHVILLE - Tennessee's appellate judicial system faces serious problems if lawmakers do not extend or change laws regarding two panels charged by statute with evaluating and recommending judges, a brand-new ruling says.

Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper indicates in a just-released legal opinion that, if nothing is done, there would be no new elections for appellate court judges in 2010 and 2014 and incumbent appellate judges "would be held over pending further action of the General Assembly to determine the manner of the election of such judges."

Moreover, vacancies on appellate or trial courts created by resignation or vacancies could not be filled if the two panels - the Judicial Selection Commission and the Judicial Evaluation Commission - are allowed to die, Mr. Cooper says.

However, expiration of the two commissions would not change the current system of electing trial court judges, he wrote. Trial court judges seeking reelection in 2010 to the unexpired portion of an eight-year term or reelection in 2014 to a full eight-year term could stand for election, his opinion says. And if an incumbent trial court judge chose not to run, his successor would be elected to an eight-year term commencing Sept. 1, 2014.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press