News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Douglas T. Jenkins of Rogersville as Chancellor in the 3rd Judicial District, replacing Thomas R. Frierson who was named to the Tennessee Court of Appeals in February.
The 3rd Judicial District serves Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins and Greene counties.
“Doug has a depth of experience in law, and I am pleased to make this appointment,” Haslam said. “I appreciate his willingness to serve, and I know he will do an excellent job on the bench.”
Jenkins, 45, has practiced in the Law Office of Douglas T. Jenkins in Rogersville since 1997. He worked in the Law Offices of Terry, Terry & Stapleton in Morristown from 1995-1997.
His areas of practice have included domestic relations; probate/wills/estate/estate litigation; criminal defense and property boundary disputes. Jenkins has been owner and manager of a private family farm in Hawkins County since 1986.
State Attorney General Robert Cooper has emerged as a secret weapon for Gov. Bill Haslam and state lawmakers seeking to douse some of the fiery legislation put out this year, according to Chas Sisk. But his legal advice may have put his office in jeopardy. A string of high-profile opinions has shown the political clout the attorney general wields.
Though seldom a focus of public attention, the state’s top lawyer has influenced some of the year’s biggest debates, touching on topics from animal cruelty to Vanderbilt University’s nondiscrimination policy. This was not the first time the attorney general’s legal acumen carried weight. But with Republican clout on the rise, support appears to be growing for legislation that would strip the attorney general’s office of some of its duties or change how he is selected.
Cooper, a Democrat with a studious air and a lawyer’s conciseness, seems unruffled by the possibility….
“This is an issue that’s been discussed for decades,” he said. “I think it really comes down to what sort of an office do you want the attorney general’s office to be — nonpartisan or partisan?”
…Cooper refused, for instance, to add Tennessee to a legal challenge against the Affordable Care Act three years ago, even as polls showed that a large majority of Tennesseans opposed the health care reform law. Cooper argued — correctly, it turned out — that the law was constitutional.
That decision and others like it prompted lawmakers to file seven separate bills this year seeking to change the attorney general’s duties or who decides to fill the office. In April, the state Senate approved one resolution that would give the legislature the power to pick the attorney general.
…(P)olicy considerations do not come into play, Cooper said. His staff of 173 lawyers simply respond to the questions they are asked by turning to the letter of the law.
“The history and tradition of this office has been that we provide nonpartisan, nonpolitical advice,” Cooper said. “That’s how we run the office. That’s how we are perceived, and I think people value the advice they get from us because of that.”
……After nearly seven years in office, Cooper says he is uncertain whether he will seek reappointment next summer.
“One of the beauties of this not being an elected office is that I don’t have to worry about getting ready for an election campaign, don’t have to be out raising money, doing anything of that sort,” he said. “So, at this point, I’m focused on the job.”
The Senate Wednesday launched an effort to amend Tennessee’s constitution to allow the Legislature to select the state attorney general.
The proposal (SJR196) would repeal a provision in the current state constitution, in effect since 1870, that requires the state Supreme Court to appoint the attorney general.
Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, sponsor of the resolution, said Tennessee is the only state in the nation with such a system and it creates a conflict of interest for the attorney general to present cases to the body that hired him.
Green also argued that the attorney general is “twice removed” from being answerable to the people since justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the governor rather than elected by voters.
“In essence, we have appointees appointing,” he said.
The sponsor cited current Attorney General Bob Cooper’s refusal to file a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act – as did many elected attorneys general in other states – as an example that “clearly our present system is not working.
Green also argued that popular election of the attorney general, the system in place for 43 states, makes the position too political. In 2010, he said, 10 of the 43 elected state attorneys general were campaigning for governor while serving.
The sponsor’s arguments were sharply disputed by Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, and Doug Overbey, R-Maryville.
Overbey said no Tennessee attorney general has ever gone on to be elected governor, showing the present system results in attorneys general providing “honest and objective” legal advice “without regard to political winds.”
Kyle said a legislator-selected attorney general would be obliged to “kowtow to us.”
The resolution was approved 22-9 in the Senate. It now goes to the House. If approved there during the 108th General Assembly, it would then face approval again by the 109th General Assembly before being scheduled for a statewide referendum in 2018.
NASHVILLE – Former state Rep. Richard Montgomery of Sevierville, defeated in a bid for reelection last year, has been named a member of the state Board of Parole by Gov. Bill Haslam.
Montgomery, who was chairman of the House Education Committee in the last legislative session, was appointed to a six-year term on the panel effective Tuesday, according to a spokesman for the governor.
A state website shows current members of the board, which decides whether state prison inmates should be granted parole, have an annual salary of $93,732 per year.
Montgomery will replace Yusef Hakeem, a former Chattanooga city councilman, who was named to the seven-member board by former Gov. Phil Bredesen.
Montgomery was defeated in the August, 2012, Republican primary by Dale Carr, a Sevierville auctioneer, who was sworn into office with other state legislators Tuesday as the 108th General Assembly began. Haslam had supported Montgomery in his bid for re-election.
A Sevier County native, Montgomery is a graduate of Seymour High School, Hiwassee Junior College and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He is a retired Operations Manager of UT-Battelle in Oak Ridge.
Haslam last year successfully pushed legislation that revised the duties of the Board of Parole, most notably by shifting responsibility for supervision of paroled inmates to the Department of Correction. Before the bill passed in the last legislative session, the board was known as the Board of Probation and Paroles
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed Lila Statom of Chattanooga as General Sessions Court Judge in Hamilton County.
Statom replaces Ronald W. Durby, who stepped down from the bench October 1, 2012 due to a disability. Durby requested a temporary replacement in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann.§ 17-2-116(a)(1).
“I am pleased to name Lila Statom to this position. She brings a wealth of experience to the bench, and Hamilton County will benefit,” Haslam said. “She has served Hamilton County ably since 1998, and we are fortunate to have someone in this role with her qualifications.”
Statom has been Assistant District Attorney General in Hamilton County for 14 years, after serving as Assistant District Attorney General in Davidson County from 1989-1998. Prior to her work in Davidson County, she worked as a law clerk for Rieves & Mayton in West Memphis, Ark.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed a special Supreme Court to hear a case from which all five Tennessee Supreme Court justices have recused themselves.
The special appointees are a group of highly qualified and diverse legal minds representing the three grand divisions of the state. They come from all practice areas and have more than a century of experience. The governor’s appointees are: William M. Barker, who is currently Of Counsel at Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C. in Chattanooga. Barker retired from the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2008 after a decade of service, three as Chief Justice. He began his service as a judge in 1983 when he was appointed Judge of the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial District. He received his bachelor of science from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga and his law degree from the University of Cincinnati. Andree Sophia Blumstein, who is a member at Sherrard & Roe, PLC in Nashville. She has extensive experience in civil appellate litigation and recently received the Tennessee Bar Association’s Joseph W. Henry Award for Outstanding Legal Writing. Blumstein graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s from Vassar College. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt School of Law, and she holds a Ph.D. in Germanic languages and literature from Yale University. George H. Brown Jr., who specializes in mediation and arbitration with Resolute Systems, LLC in Memphis. Brown retired in 2005 after serving 23 years as Circuit Court Judge of the 13th Judicial District. He served on the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1980. He received his bachelor’s from Florida A&M University and his law degree from Howard University School of Law. Robert L. Echols, who is a member at Bass, Berry & Sims in Nashville. Prior to joining the firm, Echols served as Judge of the U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee for 18 years and as Chief Judge for seven of those years. He began his legal career as a law clerk for Chief U.S. District Judge Marion S. Boyd in Memphis. He received his bachelor’s from Rhodes College and his law degree from the University of Tennessee. W. Morris Kizer, who has practiced law for more than 35 years, most recently with Gentry, Tipton & McClemore, PC in Knoxville. Kizer also served as Law Director for the City of Knoxville from 2004 until 2008. He received his bachelor of arts from Vanderbilt University and law degree from the University of Tennessee College Of Law.
The special Supreme Court will decide any appeal of Hooker et al. vs. Haslam et al., a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a Court of Criminal Appeals appointment by the governor.
— Note: Previous post HERE.