Court of Judiciary Compromise Moves Along

After more than a year of debate, compromise legislation that would alter the handling of ethics complaints against state judges passed the Senate Judicial Committee on Tuesday afternoon, reports The Tennessean.
The bill, an altered version of legislation once widely opposed by judges, would dissolve the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary and replace it with a “judicial board of conduct.” The board would be able to investigate and punish judges on a broader — yet still private — scale.
Already passed by the House Judiciary Committee last week, the bill must still clear one more House committee and both chambers of the legislature to become law.
Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Chapel Hill, said the bill would be an improvement despite the compromises required for passage. “It solves a lot of problems,” he said.”The ends of justice are served by” the bill.
Under the proposal, the ethics board would be allowed to investigate judges when it finds probable cause with a complaint instead of the “substantial probability” the Court of the Judiciary now requires. That’s a lower standard of proof.
The bill also would keep the Tennessee Supreme Court from appointing judges to the board and would let conferences of judges and House and Senate leaders appoint them instead.
The bill combines legislation from Faulk and Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet. Beavers’ legislation, which would have dramatically reformed the ethics board even more than the current legislature, did not have the consent of much of the state’s judiciary branch.
The current bill now has the support of many state judges, according to Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Jeff Bivins.

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