VOL. 110 | NO. 138 | Thursday, July 18, 1996
law focus grafix
Around, around the mulberry bush
Last week controversy of the judicial election process pitted constitutional and statutory provisions against each other, a Special State Supreme Court and a Federal Judge tried to determine who would run against state-level judges in the Aug. 1 election, and whether those elections would be contested or not.
July 8 Special Supreme Court declares Supreme Court Justice Penny White is not subject to a yes-no vote to be retained for two more years on the high court, since the recently-created Judicial Evaluation Commission had failed to review White.
July 9 Special Court agreed with appeal arguing the Tennessee Constitution mandated that Whites race be open to other candidates. Voter registration was extended to 4 p.m, Friday July 12, the first day of voting.
July 10 Special court expanded previous days ruling by three judges on state appeal courts would be subject to yes-no vote. Judges still had not been evaluated by commission.
State election coordinator Brook Thompson made those three races contested in keeping with the courts decision on White. As a result, Holly Lillard of Memphis filed a lawsuite in federal court asking that the vote on her term be extended until the general election on Nov. 5.
July 12 U.S. District Court Judge Bernice Donald ordered state to allow Lillard to run uncontested in a yes-no vote. After the ruling, attorneys for White and two other appellate udges filed similar suits with the federal court.
That afternoon, Judge Donald expanded her ruling to White and the appeals court judges, saying they would not have opponents for the Aug. 1 election. The ruling brought the issue back to the starting line.