Hamilton County’s three Criminal Court judges have all officially decided to seek re-election in 2014. Judges Don W. Poole, Barry A. Steelman, and Rebecca June Stern will be running in the upcoming election.
Judge Poole is running as a Democrat in the May primary and Judges Steelman and Stern as Republicans. The general election for the judges will be in August.
Division I is held by Judge Barry A. Steelman. Judge Steelman is a graduate of Red Bank High School, Carson-Newman University, and the University of Tennessee College of Law. Admitted to the Tennessee Bar in 1989, he first worked for the law firm of Spears, Moore, Rebman & Williams. In 1995, he worked as a prosecutor for former District Attorney Gary Gerbitz. Under District Attorney Bill Cox, Judge Steelman was promoted to managing prosecutor, then to Assistant District Attorney. In 2006, he was elected as the Division I Criminal Court Judge.
Outside of the courtroom, Judge Steelman has served the community through working with students, educating them about leadership and public service. He has also coached many different sports teams. In his church, he has been a deacon, Sunday school teacher, and member of the choir. In addition, Judge Steelman also served as the president of the Chattanooga Bar Association and is currently a Fellow of the Chattanooga Bar Foundation.
Judge Steelman said, “It has been an honor to spend most of my legal career working for the people of Hamilton County and the State of Tennessee. I am seeking re-election to continue serving as Criminal Court Judge and am asking for the support of this community.”
Judge Rebecca June Stern currently presides over the Division II Criminal Court and is also a judge for the Hamilton County Drug Court. Born in Cleveland, Judge Stern graduated with honors from both the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the University of Tennessee College of Law. After law school, she became an associate at Strang, Fletcher, Carriger, Walker, Hodge & Smith in Chattanooga. From 1989 to 1997, she served as Assistant District Attorney where she prosecuted all types of criminal cases. Here, she also helped develop the county-wide Domestic Violence Task Force. In 1997, she was appointed as a judge by former Governor Don Sundquist, and decided to seek election the following year.
Over the years, Judge Stern has served many positions at the Chattanooga Bar Association, including president, secretary, and a member of the board of directors. She continued to fight domestic violence by serving as a council member on the Domestic Violence State Coordinating Council for nearly six years. Judge Stern is also a Fellow of the Chattanooga Bar Foundation.
Judge Don W. Poole has been the presiding judge of Criminal Court Division III since 2006. Judge Poole is a graduate of the University of Tennessee’s Business school and College of Law, where he was in the Order of the Coif. He is also a veteran of the United States Air Force. Here, he earned the rank of Captain and served as a Judge Advocate General from 1966-1969. Judge Poole practiced law for over 30 years, including three years as the Chief Assistant District Attorney for Hamilton County. He has been married to his wife, Candice Anderson Poole, for 45 years. His son Chris is an Assistant United States Attorney and his daughter Courtney is the marketing director for the TSSAA.
In the community, Judge Poole is a member of Brainerd United Methodist Church, where he has taught Sunday school for 25 years. His professional memberships include the Chattanooga Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, and the American College of Trial Lawyers. He is also a Fellow of both the Chattanooga Bar Foundation and the Tennessee Bar Foundation.
Judge Poole said, “I’ve tried to work and study long and hard and be respectful to all who come before me. If elected I pledge to continue to do that.”