Nearly three-fourths of all Tennessee judicial candidates standing for election this year have signed a campaign code aimed at preserving public faith in the integrity of the justice system, the Tennessee Bar Association announced on Wednesday.
As part of its voter education initiative, the TBA also is making available judicial evaluation information about appellate court candidates and providing a guide to factors that voters should consider before casting a ballot in a retention election.
This year, two state appellate court judges, Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee and Court of Appeals Judge John McClarty, are facing a retention vote. Both have signed the TBAs judicial campaign code of conduct. In addition, there are seven state trial court candidates and 12 General Sessions candidates standing for election on Aug. 5.
This is the third election cycle during which TBA has challenged judicial candidates to sign "The Tennessee Fair Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct," which calls on candidates to:
1. Adhere to Supreme Court rules governing judicial elections;
2. Act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity, fairness, competence, independence and impartiality of the judiciary;
3. Not take public positions on issues that might come before the court;
4. Not make false or misleading statements;
5. Form a committee, if applicable, to manage campaign donations and expenditures;
6. Not allow campaign staff to take public positions on issues that might come before the court; and
7. Disavow campaign statements or materials that undermine the integrity of the judicial system or erode public trust and confidence in the independence of the judiciary.
The code of conduct initiative is overseen by the TBA Judicial Campaign Conduct Committee, which is chaired by Chattanooga lawyer and incoming TBA President Sam Elliott.