Justice Barker Says Vote “Retain”

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Although I consider Roy Exum to be a friend, I must say that the views he expressed on July 13 about the state judicial retention elections are simply wrong and terribly misinformed.  First, Roy said that all the state appellate judges should be replaced although he admits he has never met or heard of any of them.  I know them personally having been a member of the Tennessee judiciary for over 25 years.   I can truthfully say that Justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee, Gary Wade, and all of the other appellate judges deserve to be retained in office.  I am  supported in my opinion by the Tennessee Judicial Evaluation Commission.  That official commission, appointed by Lt. Governor Ramsey and Speaker of the House, Beth Harwell, after a thorough investigation,  overwhelmingly endorsed all of these judges for retention.

Roy also complained that the justices should be voted down because they have raised campaign funds.  I agree with Roy that it is preferable that judges not raise money for elections, but in this instance, the first in our state’s recent history, the judges have been forced to raise funds in order to defend themselves from unwarranted, false, and unfounded political attacks.  Out-of-state special interests and some politicians are pouring thousands of dollars into Tennessee to defeat our justices and take over our courts.  Negative ads are now airing, and mailings with false messages are appearing in our mailboxes.  Apparently, these outside groups will stop at nothing to mislead our people.  I am angered that out-of-state groups are trying to manipulate Tennessee voters, especially since these groups have even refused to reveal their donor lists.

Finally, Roy charged, without any specifics or facts, that “Tennessee is regarded as one of the most corrupt states in the country.”  Roy must know in his heart of hearts that statement is simply not true.  While we may all disagree from time to time with our elected officials, we know that most of them are honest and hard-working. To say that our state is corrupt is a most serious allegation.  I know that our Tennessee Supreme Court is not corrupt.  Having served on the Supreme Court for almost 11 years and as its Chief Justice for three years before retiring, I am offended by Roy’s inference that somehow I may have been a part of a “corrupt” court. I know that I and Justices Clark, Lee, and Wade have never made a court ruling based on political party affiliation or favoritism.  Justices Clark, Lee and Wade are each honest, fair, and non-partisan. Their opponents are trying to turn the Court, a non-political branch of government, into one that rules in favor of their political agenda instead of the law and facts of cases as required by our Constitution and state law.  I am a Republican, but politics has no place in a courtroom.  Let’s keep it that way

I strongly encourage all my fellow Tennessee voters to cast their votes to ”Retain” Justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee, and Gary Wade as well as to “Retain” the judges on the Court of Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals.

Mickey Barker


Let Teachers Teach

Despite what you hear, everything about public education is not bad. I realize that there are concerns, especially when students from the United States are globally compared to other students from industrialized countries. But when you compare the United States to 50 years ago, there is definitely an improvement. The US Department of Education reports that the country has reached ... (click for more)

Protecting Water Strengthens American Economy

Water is crucial to the U.S. economy, specifically in areas like tourism, manufacturing, energy, recreation and agriculture.  In 2011, $30 billion was spent right here in the southeastern United States by both residents and non-residents of our region who enjoyed getting outdoors to fish, hunt, or simply watch wildlife in our rich and varied streams, forests and estuaries. ... (click for more)

Teen, 17, Charged With Aggravated Rape In Attack On 69-Year-Old North Chattanooga Runner

A 17-year-old has been charged with aggravated rape in connection with an attack on a 69-year-old runner in North Chattanooga on Monday morning. The teen was identified by Juvenile Court officials as Diontae Smartt. Authorities said he has given a confession. Smartt has a detention hearing Thursday at 12:30. The incident happened at approximately 7:30 a.m. ... (click for more)

Berke Implements New Pay Plan For Chattanooga Fire Department

Mayor Andy Berke joined the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and leadership of the Chattanooga Fire Department to unveil the department’s new pay plan Wednesday afternoon. At a press conference at Fire Hall #1 on Main Street, Mayor Berke and IAFF Local 820 President Jack Thompson signed a memorandum of understanding which sets forth regular raises for fire ... (click for more)

East Hamilton Personnel Losses Boost Other 5-AAA Hoop Teams

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – East Hamilton’s loss has been solid gains for two other basketball teams in District 5-AAA and Ringgold, Ga. One of the Hurricanes’ top players, Kenny Bunton, left the program two days after Rodney English replaced fired Michael Stone and transferred to Walker Valley where he will play for coach Bob Williams’ Mustangs. “I took the job in March and two days ... (click for more)

John Shearer: Memories Of Watching 38 Baylor-McCallie Games

Back in the fall of 1971 when I was in the sixth grade at Bright School, I listened on the radio to the exciting football game between Baylor and McCallie schools, the first since the series had been discontinued after 1940. I was hoping to attend Baylor School as a student the next year, so I was quite excited that Baylor won, 9-7.  And the next year as a seventh-grader, ... (click for more)