Defense attorney Amanda Dunn’s campaign to replace retiring Criminal Court Judge Don Poole began on Wednesday morning on the steps of the old courthouse. She announced her intention to run in the August 2022 election. She said her background in almost every facet of law sets her apart from other attorneys who may run for the job. .
“I’m one of the rare attorneys in town who has practiced in criminal, state and federal court, along with juvenile court,” attorney Dunn said. “I’ve been in every courthouse with the exception of bankruptcy.”
While she has been a defense attorney for almost 20 years, Dunn has never been a prosecutor. She cited her work on the civil side of court in personal injury cases as a similar experience to being a prosecutor. She said that she also has developed relationships with prosecutors and law enforcement officers, which will help her as a judge.
“One of the things I’ve been able to do in my career is make friends with prosecutors, with assistant DA’s and DA’s, and with law enforcement officers,” Dunn said.
“It gives you a different perspective on what is important to prosecutors, because I already know what is important as a defense lawyer. When you’re able to see both sides, I think that prepares you to be fair when listening to both sides.”
Judge Poole oversees the third division of criminal court, which is in charge of mental health court. Dunn called that program one of the most crucial in the judicial system. She said about 30 percent of the inmates in Silverdale jail are diagnosed with a mental illness, and mental health court can ease the burden on the sheriff’s office.
“Mental health court is one of the most important aspects of the court,” Dunn said. “Everyone should care about it because it affects everyone.”
Attorney Dunn told the crowd “it is important to uphold and protect the constitution” as a judge. She elaborated further after the main speech.
“Our Constitution provides basic freedoms for every citizen, and it provides a right to a good attorney and a right to be free from government intrusion into your home with the search and seizure law,” she said. “These are issues that come up very frequently that come up in criminal cases. I think it’s so important to know our constitution and our supreme court’s interpretation of those laws, and to be able to apply it fairly for both the defendants and the state.”
A longtime Chattanooga resident, attorney Dunn graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 1999. She received her law degree from Wake Forest University Law School in 2004, where she was a member of the law review. She, her husband Alan and their daughter Macy live in Chattanooga.
Attorney Dunn has practiced with the Houston and Alexander law firm since 2018.