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Gov. Bill Haslam

The Governor's Council for Judicial Appointments is sending another slate of three names to Gov. Bill Haslam as candidates to replace retired Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern.

On Thursday, the council publicly interviewed a pool of 10 candidates at The Chattanoogan hotel and voted to send Amanda Dunn, Thomas Greenholtz and Stevie Phillips' names to the governor for consideration.

This is the second round of applications for the position. Haslam requested three additional names in June after Boyd Patterson, Leslie Longshore and Mike Little were initially interviewed. The governor now has 60 days to appoint one of the six candidates.

Judicial candidates

Candidates considered Thursday for Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge:

* Tracy Cox

* Amanda B. Dunn

* Ardena Juanita Garth

* Thomas Clifton Greenholtz

* Christian Coder

* Robert Dee Hobbs

* John Gary McDougal

* Yolanda Echols Mitchell

* Stevie Nicole Phillips

* Samuel F. Robinson III

During Thursday's daylong interview process, each candidate was given five minutes to introduce him- or herself and then individually answered questions from panel members. Question topics ranged from work experience to what the candidates did to relax.

Dunn, an attorney with Luther Anderson, said she is extremely familiar with Hamilton County Criminal Court, calling it her "home base." She said that she was able to work closely with Stern and believes she would fill the position with a reputation similar to Stern's.

"I have been told that I remind people of Judge Stern," Dunn said. "I take that as one of the highest compliments."

Greenholtz, an attorney with Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, told the panel that his experience in the local court system is "eclectic," citing the broad range of cases he takes and the courts where they are heard.

"One thing that always happens, though, is that I represent people," he said. "People on the civil side, people on the criminal side."

Greenholtz also said if selected as judge, he has several ideas on how to make the Criminal Court process run more efficiently. One idea is to free up docket space by removing misdemeanor cases and having them resolved in Sessions Court or on a separate misdemeanor docket.

Phillips, an attorney with Davis & Hoss, told the panel she has wanted to be a Criminal Court judge since she entered law school. She spoke of her accomplishments and reputation within the local court system.

"I have made deliberate decisions to take on opportunities that I hoped would prepare me for a Criminal Court judgeship," she said.

If selected, Phillips said, she would be eager to continue the drug court that Stern established in Hamilton County. She told panel members how the drug court directly affected a member of her family.

Panel member Bill Young said it was hard to choose just three finalists from Thursday's group of candidates, citing the qualifications many of the applicants demonstrated.

"And it will be even more difficult for the governor to decide between these three candidates and the other three already before him," Young said.

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at kendi.anderson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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