3 vie for Chancery Court seat

3 vie for Chancery Court seat

August 1st, 2010 by Monica Mercer in Politics

Three local lawyers are competing for the job of Chancery Court judge in Hamilton County's only contested judicial race.

Republican Jeff Atherton and Democrat Valerie Epstein are experienced Chattanooga trial attorneys. A third candidate, Arthur Grisham, is the oldest at 67 and is running as an independent.

A recent voluntary poll conducted by the Chattanooga Bar Association indicates that a majority of Chattanooga's lawyers who regularly work in the courts believe that Grisham would be the best person for the job.

Chancery Court is a state court of equity where money disputes routinely are litigated and all probate, will and trust matters are processed.

The winner of the election will replace Howell Peoples, who retired in March. The term runs through 2014.

Lee Akers, the clerk and master of Chancery Court, said a date has not yet been set for the new chancellor to be sworn in.

Since the court currently is using an interim chancellor, Akers said the newly elected chancellor "needs to be sworn in as soon as possible."

All three candidates expressed admiration for Peoples after his retirement and largely have said they want to continue presiding over matters of the court in a fair and impartial fashion. They all stressed that partisan politics should not be a factor in the judicial branch of government.

All three have expressed interest in upgrading technology in Chancery Court, such as putting court documents online so the public will have easier access.

Chancellors are employed by the state and receive a yearly salary of $154,320. Their salaries are determined by the state Legislature.

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