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



Roy Exum: This Library Comes Alive

I am pretty positive that I haven’t stepped foot in a library in the last 50 years. Between the ever-widening Internet, with all of its search engines and infinite resources, I have got about as much use for a library as I would if I read a book about a transgender person. I have neither the time or inclination. Be like trying to teach a pig to sing – the pig always get bored. ... (click for more)

Rep. John Deffenbaugh: Week 11 House Of Representatives Report

The Georgia General Assembly reconvened under the Gold Dome on Monday, March 20 for day 36 of the 2017 legislative session. Sine die is less than a week away, and the House had another busy week of reviewing legislation in committee hearings, voting on bills and resolutions on the House floor and giving final passage to several bills that will now be considered by Governor Deal. ... (click for more)

State Says "Beef" Between 2 Bloods Gangs Started Over A Female And Led Eventually To Shootings At College Hill Courts

The state presented testimony on Monday about a feud between two Bloods gangs that allegedly eventually led to a 16-year-old shooting up a unit at College Hill Courts - killing one woman, injuring another, leaving a child paralyzed and injuring a member of the other Bloods gang. A city police gang expert said the bitter rift between the Athens Park Bloods based on the Southside ... (click for more)

Walker County To Raise Water, Sewer Rates To Improve Aging Infrastructure

 The board of directors for the Walker County Water & Sewerage Authority (WCWSA) has granted approval for the utility to move forward with a base rate increase to address aging infrastructure concerns.   Starting this summer, WCWSA will begin replacing older galvanized pipe. These older water mains will be upgraded from two-inch galvanized pipe to six-inch high-pressure ... (click for more)

Central's Parrott Throttles Ooltewah With 1-Hit Shutout

Ooltewah looked like it was still on spring break. Central was sharp, Brooke Parrott dazzling, Mikayla Gill swung the bat well and the Lady Pounders played like an unbeaten, once-tied ballclub. Parrott threw a one-hit shutout – the hit was a wind-blown pop on the infield – and Gill slapped a two-run double off Kayla Boseman to right-center field in the third inning and ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Thumps Bledsoe Co., 11-1

The Notre Dame baseball team was in a race of a different kind Monday evening and the Fighting Irish came out on top in all three categories. Facing the Bledsoe County Warriors at Notre Dame’s Hunter Field, the Irish beat the rain, they got finished before dark and most importantly, beat the Warriors 11-1 in five innings as they improved to 4-2 overall with the same record in ... (click for more)