Circuit Court Judge, Division 1:
Two Chattanooga-native Republicans seek the post of Circuit Court Judge, Division 1, a post soon to be vacated by Judge Jacqueline Bolton.
J.B. Bennett and Catherine Cate White are both excellent candidates for the bench of a judge who will hear appeals from lower courts, contract disputes, civil torts, condemnations, worker's compensation claims, joint petition minor settlements, name changes, adoptions and domestic matters like divorce.
We endorse Catherine Cate White.
White, 53, of Chattanooga, has been practicing law for 25 years and worked in areas including special counsel for Chattanooga, worker's compensation, General Sessions Court, contract disputes and condemnations. In recent years, she says, most of her practice has been in family law, including divorce, alimony, parenting plans, prenuptial agreements and protective orders. She is the daughter of the late Forrest Cate Jr. and Marcia Cate Overstreet.
Bennett, 48, of Signal Mountain, says public service was instilled in him by his father, long-time and current Hamilton County Assessor of Property Bill Bennett. He has practiced law since 1993 with the firm Spears, Moore, Rebman and Williams, working mainly complex civil cases and jury trials.
Both would be capable jurists.
White, the mother of two, including a son with mild Down syndrome, says her experience in family law makes her a good candidate for the position. We agree, and we endorse her.
Chancery Judge, Part 1:
Two Republicans -- Pam McNutt Fleenor and Joe Manuel -- are vying for the chancellor's position that soon will be vacated by the retiring Frank Brown, who has served since 1998.
Both would do an excellent job as chancellor. We endorse Pam McNutt Fleenor.
The Hamilton County Chancery Court handles cases involving domestic relations, worker's compensation, estates, trusts, contracts, review of administrative action of governmental agencies and boards, collection of delinquent taxes, guardianships, and conservatorships, dissolution of partnerships and corporations, enforcement of liens, boundary lines, breach of contract, fraud, election contests and other matters of a civil nature.
Manuel, 60, of Hixson, has practiced law in Chattanooga for 35 years and has worked as a mediator trained in alternative dispute resolution for 20 years. He also has served on the boards of the Chattanooga Bar Association and the Chattanooga Trial Lawyers. In politics, he has been president of Hamilton County Pachyderm Club and serves as legal counsel to the Hamilton County GOP.
Fleenor, 54, of Lookout Mountain, began practicing law in Chattanooga in 1986, and has worked in areas such as personal injury, civil rights violations, employment defense, breach of contract and complex commercial litigation. She was recently endorsed by former Hamilton County Mayor and Deputy Governor Claude Ramsey.
She said she heard nearly two years ago that Brown might retire, and she asked him about the work. He advised her to take on more conservatorships to gain additional experience. Conservators are appointed by chancellors to handle the affairs of people who are mentally incapacitated or need assistance because of health problems. The majority of the Part 1 caseload is conservatorships, so she took on indigent conservatorship work to learn more about the process in preparation for running.
Both candidates have sat as special judge in General Sessions Court, but Fleenor is the better pick for this judgeship.
Of all the judgeships in Hamilton County, only two of the dozen on this primary election ballot have opposition for the May 6 election. Today The Times and Free Press editorial pages offer endorsements in those two primary races.