Two judges and one attorney have submitted applications to fill the seat held by Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz, which he will vacate in September.
Robert Davis, who has been a municipal judge in the city of Decherd, Tennessee, in Franklin County for the past five years, and Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Alex McVeagh have submitted applications to be considered for the position. Chattanooga attorney Amanda B. Dunn - who recently lost to public defender Boyd Patterson in a bid to fill the seat of retiring Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don W. Poole - has also submitted an application.
"I've been practicing law for about nine years, I've been city judge for five years, so I have some experience behind the bench," Davis told the Chattanooga Times Free Press in a Thursday telephone interview.
Davis added that should he be appointed, he would want to make navigating the court system easier for relatives of those going through court proceedings.
"I want to increase technology in the courtroom, and communication, about what's going on," Davis said. "When you look at their faces, it's absolute fear. ... I wanted to help, I felt I could help.
"I'd be honored to just be selected," Davis said.
McVeagh, who works with Greenholtz in the drug court program handling misdemeanors, is running on the nonpartisan ballot to retain his seat in the General Sessions court in August.
"This decision did not come easy for me," McVeagh told the Times Free Press in a telephone interview, saying he has a great passion for the work he does in General Sessions court.
"When I heard the governor is going to interview people after the election, I thought long and hard about it, prayed a lot and spoke to my family," McVeagh said. "I love my job. I think we do a lot of good in the General Sessions court. I am struggling with the decision. It's been in the last week that people have shown support to at least throw my name in the hat."
McVeagh said that should he be selected to replace Greenholtz, whom McVeagh says mentored him during his years as an attorney, he will continue his former mentor's work.
"I think I might be able to make a bigger impact in our community in that position," McVeagh said. "I'm certainly excited for that opportunity. He leaves large shoes to fill, but I'm willing to try, particularly during the time with rising violent crime in our community."
McVeagh has presided in the General Sessions court for five years, after he was appointed by then-Gov. Bill Haslam to serve as "special judge" in 2017, when former Judge David E. Bales was placed on medical leave.
"The five years has prepared me to serve the community in a Criminal Court position," McVeagh said.
McVeagh only had positive things to say about the other two candidates.
"She's an outstanding lawyer, and she will be a great choice and is a great applicant," he said of Dunn.
"All that I have read and know about him, he seems to be impressive, and I wish him the best of luck," he said of Davis.
Davis also had positive things to say about McVeagh and Dunn.
"I think they're both great people," Davis said. "I think any of us who submitted an application would do a fine job. I think Hamilton County will be in good hands with whoever is selected."
Dunn, who does not have experience as a judge but has handled cases in both the state and federal courts, said in her application that she wanted to use her experience as a lawyer to "serve the citizens of Hamilton County," adding, "I believe that I can equitably preside over trials, impose just sentences."
Dunn, who is at home sick with COVID-19, did not offer a comment.
In April, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals announced the selection of Greenholtz to serve as a judge in its Eastern Division. He was approved with a 91-0 vote from the state House and a 31-0 vote from the state Senate.
Gov. Bill Lee will appoint a judge to take over Greenholtz's bench until the county general election of 2024, when any candidate can run for the position.
The Hamilton County general election will be held on Aug. 4, and judges will take seats on Sept. 1.
Because the ballots were printed prior to his appointment to the Court of Criminal Appeals, Greenholtz will appear on the August ballot.