Closing Argument On Retention Election 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A number of lawyers and judges are seemingly fearful of partisan campaigns when it comes to whether voters choose to replace or retain our justices.  Perhaps those same lawyers and judges feel that politics or campaign finance interests would sway the opinions of future justices.  Ironically, those same lawyers and judges don’t have that identical concern for the existing justices even after they accepted over $1,000,000 and will be subject to retention again at a later point if retained this year.  

A number of lawyers and judges have said that the election to replace is nothing more than a power grab by the lieutenant governor, thus creating the farce that one branch can magically control another, which is not true in reality.  The branches are independent and have their own powers pursuant to the Constitution.   

Consider that the lieutenant governor is actually doing the judicial branch a favor, and more importantly, the voters too.  How?  A Tennessee Supreme Court determined by the voters under a partisan campaign is a court more powerful among the branches than it would be otherwise.  The reason: political legitimacy to govern autonomously is derived from the sovereign.  Public officials obtain power when voters elect them to do the business of government.  As for empowering the voter, it is through the vigorous public debate associated with partisan campaigns that the voters become aware of their voting rights, gain knowledge about the candidates, and partake as citizens in the formation of their government through the democratic process.  

The Tennessee Supreme Court is not just a court that opines on cases (which by the way can often be appealed to the United States Supreme Court as a court of last resort unless it is an independent and adequate state issue).  These justices oversee the Administrative Office of the Courts.  The AOC presides over numerous state government functions impacting the judicial branch, including the administration of the lower courts, the regulation of the practice of law, the victim’s fund, and many other programs.  As with any government branch, the elected public officials with oversight should be accountable to the voters.  Apparently this only happens for the justices when a partisan campaign is launched during a retention election year.  

I may be a lawyer, but I am a Tennessean first.  I will be voting to replace the justices because I believe that no justice should contest having to plea their case in a partisan race – that’s how we hold our elected public officials accountable as voters. 

Pursuant to Article VI, Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution, “judges of the supreme court shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state.”   

James H. Dunn
Attorney at Law

Make Government Work Again

There hasn't been as much talk about it in the national news as the presidential candidates, but please don't forget the down race ballots, our do-nothing Congress and the obstructionism they have practiced over the last eight years. It is time to break the log jam and make government work again. That includes the state level as well.  John Fricke (click for more)

Joe Smith Will Be Our Watchdog

I am writing as a registered Democratic voter asking that all voters, regardless of party affiliation, vote for Independent Candidate Joe Smith for District 3 Hamilton County commissioner.  The Hamilton County Commission is the local legislative branch of our county government and their duties include making policies, ordinances, appropriating funds and many other things ... (click for more)

In Surprise Vote, Chattanooga City Council Turns Down Short Term Vacation Rentals

In a surprise vote, the City Council on Tuesday night turned down allowing a process to legalize short term vacation rentals in Chattanooga. Only Chip Henderson and Jerry Mitchell voted in favor. Opposed were Carol Berz, Yusuf Hakeem, Larry Grohn, Moses Freeman, Ken Smith and Russell Gilbert. Chris Anderson was absent. Afterward, Councilman Smith said, in light of the vote, ... (click for more)

Cold Case Unit Makes Arrest In Murders Of Brothers In Brainerd Almost 20 Years Ago; Detectives Say Brainerd Jeweler Rick Davis Tied To Incident

The Cold Case Unit set up by District Attorney Neal Pinkston has made an arrest in the murders of two brothers in Brainerd almost 20 years ago. The Hamilton County Grand Jury on Monday indicted 52-year-old Christopher Jeffre Johnson on two counts of first-degree murder in the January 1997 deaths of Sean and Donny Goetcheus. The 25-year-old Sean Goetcheus and his ... (click for more)

Taylor Luthringer, Thomas Porter Win Region Cross Country

COOKEVILLE – Tuesday was a pretty good day for the Signal Mountain cross country teams. Not only did they celebrate with both individual winners in the Region 4-A/AA races, but both teams finished in the top three and will advance to the state meet, which will be held at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park a week from Saturday. Taylor Luthringer and Thomas Porter captured the individual ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Draws Top Ranked Greeneville, CCS Opens With Madison Magnet

For the second year in a row, Notre Dame drew the top-ranked Greeneville in the opening round of the TSSAA Class A/AA state tournament.  Notre Dame is scheduled to play Greeneville on Wednesday at 8 p m. (EST)  in Murfreesboro. CCS will play Madison Magnet in the first round on field #1 at 7:30 p.m. (EST) . CCS and Greeneville met in the state championship game ... (click for more)