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



How Will Community Policing Be Implemented This Time?

Chattanooga, like the rest of the nation, has always had community policing in some form or on some level.  The question is, how will it be used, this time?   In recent time, as it's historically, community policing has been used to segregate by race, class, create chaos, divide communities. Pit neighbor against neighbor. But rarely has it been used to unite and bring ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Third Son Takes His Life

Steven Ferrin, described by his parents as “a handsome, bubbly and witty young man,” was the victim of what is called “a sectarian attack” in recent weeks near his home in north Belfast (Ireland) and last weekend was found dead after the 31-year-old father of a 7-year-old girl had taken his own life. Compounding the tragedy is the horrific news that Steven’s other two brothers and ... (click for more)

Prosecutor Asks Jury To Find Morse Guilty In Massacre At Lookout Valley RV Park

Prosecutor Cameron Williams on Tuesday asked a Criminal Court jury to find Derek Morse guilty of three counts of first-degree murder as well as attempted first-degree murder in a massacre at a Lookout Valley RV Park on April 9, 2014. Morse, who was 19 at the time, is standing trial in the courtroom of Judge Barry Steelman. Skyler Allen, who was 22 when the shots rang out, ... (click for more)

Defense Will Not Get Federal Witness In Trial Of Truck Driver Charged In Wreck That Killed 6 People

The federal government is resisting sending a lab technician from Oklahoma to Chattanooga for next week's trial of Benjamin Brewer, who is charged in the wreck at Ooltewah that claimed six lives. Mike Little of the public defender's office said the defense should be entitled to have a live witness, but he also said he did not want the trial delayed again. A jury was selected ... (click for more)

Impressive Signal Mountain Whips Red Bank, 3-0

The Signal Mountain Lady Eagles have one of the better volleyball teams in town this fall and it’s no surprise that they are unbeaten in district play. They proved just how good they are Tuesday evening in Red Bank’s Susan Ingram Thurman Gymnasium as they needed about 50 minutes to beat the Lionettes for the second time this season. Set scores were 25-6, 25-7 and 25-15. ... (click for more)

East Hamilton Holds Off Sale Creek For 3-2 Volleyball Win

East Hamilton blew a 2-0 lead, but rebounded in the fifth set Tuesday to beat gutsy Sale Creek 3-2 in high school volleyball action at East Hamilton. “We knew they were a good team, probably the best team we’ve played this season, but I think we gave up after the second game,” East Hamilton’s Jordyn Griffith said. “I think we knew we had it in the bag because we’re a good ... (click for more)