Meet the Soddy-Daisy city judge candidates

Meet the Soddy-Daisy city judge candidates

July 18th, 2012 by Emily Crisman in Local Regional News

With 10 candidates in the running, the citizens of Soddy-Daisy have a large selection to choose from when electing their city judge Aug. 2, or during early voting now through July 28. Each candidate agreed to answer our questionnaire, explaining why they want to serve the city of Soddy-Daisy and what qualifies them to do so.

Mike Acuff

Q. What qualifies you to serve as judge in Soddy-Daisy?

A. I have unmatched work and life experiences for this important position. I specialize in criminal law and I am asking to be elected to this criminal law job.

Q. What is your experience?

A. Approximately 80 percent of my nearly 26 years of legal practice has been in criminal law in every criminal court in Hamilton County. I am the sole candidate who has worked as a prosecutor, a job I did during two different periods of my military career. I believe that my 35-plus year career in the military on active duty and in the Reserves as an officer and enlisted man instilled personal values in me that Soddy-Daisy citizens want to see in their judge.

Q. Why are you running?

A. I am passionate about having an unbiased legal system responsive to the concerns of the citizens. I want justice for all Soddy-Daisy citizens - those who are victims of crime and those accused of crimes, and their families. Because justice matters to me, the right result matters to me. I seek the position that most controls the result in disputed cases.

Q. Where do you live?

A. Like Soddy-Daisy's previous judge, I live in Hixson; in my own case, behind Nana's Frozen Custard, a landmark many recognize. My wife is the school psychologist at Soddy-Daisy High School and Daisy Elementary. My three children graduated from Soddy-Daisy High School along with many of their church friends. Through these ties, I feel strongly connected to the people of Soddy-Daisy.

Bob Davis

Q. What qualifies you to serve as judge in Soddy-Daisy?

A. I have excellent judicial temperament, legal knowledge and experience as city judge.

Q. What is your experience?

A. I am currently one of the judicial commissioners for Hamilton County, in my third year. As part of my duties, I set bonds and issue conditions of release, arrest warrants and search warrants for all of Hamilton County, including all municipalities and Soddy-Daisy. The only part of the duties of city judge that I do not currently do is hold the actual court hearing. From 2000-2002, I was the city judge for Calhoun, Tenn., and member of the Tennessee Conference of General Sessions Judges in addition to my full-time law practice. I also was serving as the International General Counsel for High Twelve International Inc., an international Masonic organization. I served as special judge previously in Soddy-Daisy, Collegedale, Chattanooga, General Sessions Criminal Divisions and Hamilton County Juvenile Court. I taught criminal law and procedure, Business Law I, II and III and sociology at Chattanooga State Community College. I also served as special Chattanooga city attorney as a hearing officer previously. I am admitted to practice law in Tennessee since 1973 and Washington, D.C., since 1974, and am admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court, Tax Court and all lesser courts. I was a federal attorney ... prior to returning home in 1976 to begin local general law practice with Arvin Reingold, now city judge in East Ridge.

Q. Why are you running?

A. I may serve as a judicial commissioner and serve as city judge for Soddy-Daisy. This would permit Soddy-Daisy to have my time as city judge on court days and during my 40 hours at the jail during the evenings, weekends and days while I am already performing part of those duties.

Q. Where do you live?

A. I do not live in Soddy-Daisy, but am domiciled in Chattanooga.

Chad Hogue

Q. What qualifies you to serve as judge in Soddy-Daisy?

A. Legal skill and good judgment are the most important qualities for any judge, as well as a good judicial temperament. I believe I have those qualities.

Q. What is your experience?

A. My legal career has been almost exclusively devoted to representing defendants in civil lawsuits. I have had experience in defending a broad range of civil cases, from ordinary car accident cases and real estate matters to complicated employment discrimination cases. Despite being a relatively young lawyer, I have more trial and appellate experience than most.

Q. Why are you running?

A. My family and I love this area and I want to serve the community as judge. If I am selected as judge by the voters, I would like nothing better than to continue the trend of stability for the judgeship. I have no intentions of seeking any other judicial position or any other elected capacity. The citizens of Soddy-Daisy are fortunate to have many excellent candidates to choose from on Aug. 2. Unlike myself, nearly all of the candidates have practices that are largely based on representation of criminal defendants. My practice is different and I believe that I will have a unique perspective as judge. Since the Soddy-Daisy judgeship is a part-time position, whoever is elected will spend 80 to 90 percent of their time in their current practice. It is difficult to expect that someone who represents criminal defendants 90 percent of the time to be appropriately tough on crime as judge. The voters can be assured that I will be impartial as judge because I am not sympathetic to criminal defendants. I will judge each defendant and each case on its merits.

Q. Where do you live?

A. I live in the Hunters Hollow Subdivision just off of Sequoyah Road. We are just outside the city limits of Soddy-Daisy.

Bryan Hoss

Q. What qualifies you to serve as judge in Soddy-Daisy?

A. In 1996, I started working with the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office. Lee Davis, a prosecutor, handed me a first-degree murder file and over the next few years, I helped him prosecute at least a dozen murder cases. After law school, I tried my first trial before I ever passed the bar exam and tried my first federal trial about three months later. I have been a trial lawyer ever since, trying anything from a first-degree murder case to a simple misdemeanor. The type of law that occurs in Soddy-Daisy Municipal Court is the type of law that I practice day in and day out.

Q. What is your experience?

A. I have been a special judge in Hamilton County Sessions Court. For the last four years, I have taught as an adjunct professor of criminal law at UTC. What makes me different than the other candidates is that in addition to my criminal law practice, I also represent police officers individually. Most people don't know that if an officer gets involved in a shooting, he can be sued and may have to pay money out of his own pocket. I fight to protect the officers from these type of lawsuits. I am proud that I just received the endorsement of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local #673, which represents over 200 law enforcement officers in Hamilton County, this past week.

Q. Why are you running?

A. I believe that my experience and knowledge will be an asset to Soddy-Daisy. In addition, by being a judge, I will be a better lawyer for my clients. I think the perspective that I will get as a judge will make me a better litigator and better advocate for them.

Q. Where do you live?

A. I have an office in downtown Chattanooga, and I currently live on Signal Mountain.

Christian Lanier

Q. What qualifies you to serve as judge in Soddy-Daisy?

A. I have more than 35 years of experience in the practice of law touching virtually every subject area in the legal system. I have practiced criminal law since 1981, handling municipal, state and federal cases from speeding to first-degree murder. I have served on the local federal court's Criminal Justice Act Panel for many years and have represented people charged with federal offenses from DUI in a National Park to those facing decades of prison time for drugs, robbery, firearms and armed career criminal offenses. For more than 20 years I have handled mental health cases at Moccasin Bend Mental Hospital and Valley Hospital. I have the knowledge, experience and insight to address the matters that will come before the Soddy-Daisy Municipal Court. My philosophy is to let each side have its say without jumping in, making assumptions and deciding before all the evidence is before me.

Q. What is your experience?

A. I received a bachelor's in political science with a minor in economics/business administration from Vanderbilt University and attended Memphis State University School of Law. My areas of practice are state and federal criminal defense, personal injury, workers' compensation, subdivision law, mental health law, adoptions, divorce and custody, wills and estates, bankruptcy and business incorporation.

Q. Why are you running?

A. The municipal judge has a crucial role in community leadership by the way the court is conducted. I offer my knowledge, experience, time and energy to advance Soddy-Daisy in this way. As a judge I would also be available to the schools in this community to teach Soddy-Daisy's young people about the legal system, legal issues that impact them in particular, as well as the Constitutions of the United States and Tennessee, and the history of law.

Q. Where do you live?

A. I live in Soddy-Daisy, near Harbor Lights Marina. I am within minutes of the Soddy-Daisy Court and will be available as needed for non-sessions hours.

Marty Lasley

Q. What qualifies you to serve as judge in Soddy-Daisy?

A. I've been in courtrooms all over this region and state practicing law since my graduation from the Vanderbilt School of Law in 1987. I was a Hamilton County magistrate from 2007-2009 and have sat as a special judge for Chattanooga on many occasions. I care deeply about the highest quality of life for all my family, friends, neighbors and fellow residents. Soddy-Daisy is my hometown. Nobody else in this race can say that. I graduated from SDHS. Nobody else in this race can say that either. I love Soddy-Daisy and am proud to be from here.

Q. What is your experience?

A. I have 25 years of courtroom experience in federal, state, county and city courts. I am a former Hamilton County magistrate, former administrative assistant to the Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey, former assistant city of Chattanooga attorney and past president of Soddy-Daisy Chamber of Commerce.

Q. Why are you running?

A. I believe that a judge with my level of experience and background can truly make a difference in some lives. If one has an eye to notice, there are some defendants that want to make a change or can be motivated to do so. I think I can help these. Soddy-Daisy deserves a judge that is one of us. The city of Soddy-Daisy incorporated in 1969 and has never, that's right, NEVER, had a judge who is also a city resident. I promise to be a judge all of you can be proud of. I will be an ambassador for our city and I pledge never to embarrass you. Let's make history!

Q. Where do you live?

A. I live at 11285 McGill Road within the Soddy-Daisy city limits. That has been my address for about 40 years.

Mike Little

Q. What qualifies you to serve as judge in Soddy-Daisy?

A. I have been licensed to practice law for 15 years. I have 21 years of actual courtroom experience in criminal law.

Q. What is your experience?

A. When I attended UTC and the Nashville School of Law I had the opportunity to work for four criminal court judges for six years gaining valuable courtroom experience. After graduating from law school I opened my law office and have been a solo practitioner for 15 years representing more than 2,000 clients, litigating cases in more than 10 Tennessee counties and trying approximately 60 jury trials in state and federal courts, including several high-profile cases. I have been fortunate to practice law in a variety of courts including city, county, state and federal courts. I have also had the experience of presenting oral arguments before the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, the Tennessee Supreme Court and the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. I have also been sworn as a special judge on several occasions for the City Court of Chattanooga, City Court of Red Bank and Hamilton County General Sessions Court. I am employed by UTC as an adjunct professor where I have taught a legal environment of business class for the last six years.

Q. Why are you running?

A. I want to give back to the city that I live in by using the combined 21 years of courtroom experience that I have gained. Soddy-Daisy has never elected a resident of the city to be the judge. I believe my legal experience, knowledge of the law and understanding of judicial temperament is what the residents of the city of Soddy-Daisy would look for when casting a vote for city judge.

Q. Where do you live?

A. Soddy-Daisy.

John McDougal

Q. What qualifies you to serve as judge in Soddy-Daisy?

A. I have been serving as a special judge for more than 10 years. I have served as a special judge in the Hamilton County General Sessions Court for all the judges, the Chattanooga City Court for all the judges and the Red Bank City Court for Judge Gary Disharoon. Because of this experience, I know the law and have made judgments in numerous cases, from civil to criminal to municipal. A judge who does not exhibit fair and impartial administration of the law, either by being too harsh or too lenient, lends the impression to the citizens that they are not likely to receive fair and equitable justice from the court.

Q. What is your experience?

A. I am licensed to practice before the Tennessee Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition, I have argued before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Tennessee Court of Appeals and the Tennessee Criminal Court of Appeals. My practice is 70 percent criminal law and 30 percent civil law.

Q. Why are you running?

A. I feel that I can give back to the community by being the Soddy-Daisy city judge. As a resident of Soddy-Daisy, someone who has practiced for many years, and as a special judge, I feel that I am qualified to be the best choice for judge.

Q. Where do you live?

A. Soddy-Daisy.

Mitchell Meeks

Q. What qualifies you to serve as judge in Soddy-Daisy?

A. I have practiced law for 24 years now, including both civil and criminal law. My college degree is from Tennessee Temple University and my law degree is from Wake Forest. I believe I have a strong reputation for fairness and integrity with all of the judges before whom I practice, as well as my colleagues.

Q. What is your experience?

A. Most of my law practice has been spent in state and local courts, encompassing a broad spectrum of cases including civil litigation, family law, probate, real property issues, personal injury and criminal law. I was designated by AARP to handle their cases in the Greater Chattanooga area. I have also clerked for a U.S. magistrate.

Q. Why are you running?

A. One of the most significant guiding principles in my life is the admonition, "To whom much is given, much is required." Over the years I have been blessed with a law practice that has allowed me not only to provide for my family, but to actively give back to the communities where I have resided. Becoming city judge in Soddy-Daisy would afford me one more opportunity to live out this principle in my life.

Q. Where do you live?

A. My family and I have lived in Soddy-Daisy for the past eight years.

John Meldorff

Q. What qualifies you to serve as judge in Soddy-Daisy?

A. I have previously served as city judge for the town of Graysville, Tenn., and have been trained as a mediator under the rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Q. What is your experience?

A. After receiving my law license in 1975, I have practiced law continuously in Hamilton County and throughout Southeastern Tennessee. I have extensive trial practice before many different judges in both Tennessee and federal courts and have gained valuable knowledge about the role and demeanor of a judge from the various judges before whom I have appeared.

Q. Why are you running?

A. Throughout my adult life, I have been actively involved in our community and within the public schools in Soddy-Daisy. I love our city and have sent all four of my children through the public schools here, from Falling Water [Elementary] through the high school. I continue to sponsor and support various local events, such as the sports booster program for Soddy-Daisy Middle School and High School soccer teams, and I provide a scholarship each year for the Soddy-Daisy Junior Miss [now Distinguished Young Woman] program. I have served on the Site Committee for three years at the high school and am currently on the Falling Water School Centennial Celebration Committee.

Therefore, I want to continue to help our community by serving as city judge.

Q. Where do you live?

A. After living in Soddy-Daisy for many years, first on the Mile Straight and then on Depot Street, I had the opportunity to purchase some property atop Roberts Mill Road, just 13 minutes from the Soddy-Daisy city limits.