Candidate for Chancellor Joe Manuel said to the Civitan Club on Friday afternoon, "An ideal chancellor should have the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, and the steel in his spine of a good high school principal."
He said the position of Chancellor is important because Chancery Court deals with "issues that will affect everyone in Hamilton County, whether you've personally walked through the doors or not."
In 2013 alone, Chancery Court had 2,300 cases, dealing with everything from divorce to annexation.
He said, "Chancery Court is the court that from time to time is going to stand up and literally stretch out its hand to the government and say 'No.'"
He gave an example, saying recently, an area that had been annexed into the city 30 years ago was paying taxes but still not receiving city services such as sewer and water. Mr. Manuel said when the case came to Chancery Court, the Chancellor at that time ruled that those residents did not have to pay city taxes until they were given the services they had been promised.
He said, when Chancery Court protects people from the government, "I think it's their best hour."
Mr. Manuel also said voters needed to ask the question, "Has this lawyer distinguished himself in the practice of law?" A lawyer for the past 35 years, he said, "I have been very fortunate in my legal career to have been exposed to a broad breadth of cases."
He pointed out, "Trial lawyers are some of the most transparent people in the world. We're a little like baseball pitchers...When a trial lawyer loses a case, there's nowhere to hide."
In addition to working as a trial lawyer, Mr. Manuel also studied to become a mediator. He said he developed a pilot mediation program to reduce docket loads. Eventually, he became a Tennessee Supreme Court Mediator.
In 1992, he also became an arbitrator, acting to settle disputes. He called this "great training to become a Chancellor" because of the complex cases he sees regularly.
In 1995, he became a Civil Trial Specialist. Since that time, he has authored a book, "The Tennessee Alternative Dispute Resolution Handbook," which is still used today. He also taught online law classes, helping current lawyers to grow their careers.
He said because Chancery Court deals with such a wide range of cases, it is important the Chancellor is "not someone who is overspecialized in a particular area."
When asked what set him apart from his opponent, Mr. Manuel said, "You won't find them with 35 years of experience." He also pointed out his experience in mediation and arbitration. He is running against Pam Fleenor for the Republican Primary.
He said, "I'm not afraid to stand up and make difficult decisions, because there will be difficult decisions to make. It is not an easy job."