A Hamilton County General Sessions Court judge who recently claimed medical disability plans to return to the bench "as soon as his health improves."
Judge David E. Bales, who officially stepped off the bench March 17, will send a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam next week requesting medical disability until his doctors clear him to return to work, according to a news release from General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck.
If a judge claims disability, state law says Gov. Bill Haslam will select a replacement, not the Hamilton County Commission, which appointed him in 2005.
"I received a call from Judge Bales [Wednesday] evening," Shattuck said in a statement Thursday. "Bales said that his doctors are preparing their recommendations to be sent to the Governor. However, one is out of the country, but will be returning the latter part of next week. Upon receiving that doctor's letter, he will send his request directly to the Governor."
Bales, who earns $170,520 annually, missed at least 45 days on the bench since he was diagnosed with cancer around Oct 1., 2016. He didn't claim disability until earlier this month, and his colleagues and volunteer attorneys have worked to cover his caseload. But the strain became so challenging that Shattuck asked the Hamilton County Commission on Feb. 1 to set aside $71,342 for attorneys who covered any of his cases over the next three months.
Bales wants to return to the bench as soon as his health returns and "with God's help" to run again for judge in 2022, Shattuck said. He also faces stressful situations with elderly parents' deteriorating health, Shattuck added.