Bill would abolish two judge positions in Shelby

Shelby County would have two fewer Circuit Court judges if a bill filed by state Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown becomes law, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Kelsey’s Senate Bill 1484 would abolish divisions 1 and 5 of Shelby County Circuit Court effective Sept. 1 of this year, the start of the next eight-year judicial term. There are nine divisions of Shelby Circuit Court now, with a judge for each.

The bill also says there would be no election for the two judgeships in the August county general election because they would cease to exist.

The bill drew the opposition of the county’s trial court judges and lawyers, a delegation of whom traveled to Nashville to talk about the impact of the losses of judges with the Shelby County legislative delegation Wednesday.

Kelsey, a lawyer and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the bill resulted from a statewide judicial caseload study completed in October that concluded Shelby County has 2.76 more state trial-court judges overall than it needs. That number is out of 22 judgeships in the county’s chancery, circuit and criminal courts.

But Kelsey said the bill “is just the beginning of the conversation” on the issue, which also hinges on whether Gov. Bill Haslam proposes funding for additional judges in high-growth areas of the state in the budget he’ll present to legislators late this month.