VOL. 110 | NO. 172 | Thursday, September 5, 1996
Judicial seats up for grabs
Judicial seats up for grabs
Vacated state supreme court, new criminal appeals positions in selection process
By NATALIE VANTREASE STRODE
The Daily News
The state Judicial Selection Commission will have its hands full this fall with four statewide seats to fill.
The judicial selection process is underway for three newly created Court of Criminal Appeals seats, with the selection commission meeting in Jackson, Tenn., Sept. 12 to make a short list of applicants to give to Gov. Don Sundquist for the West Tennessee appeals position.
Applicants for the Western Division Criminal Appeals seat are Waymon Fredric Axley, local Criminal Court judge; Leonard T. Lafferty, Criminal Court judge; Joe Riley, Circuit Court judge in Ridgely, Tenn.; Mark W. Ward, part-time public defender in Shelby County; and Teresa Diane Jones, said local attorney Robert Freidman, a member of the Judicial Selection Commission.
Selection meetings for the East and Middle Tennessee seats will be held Sept. 20 and Oct. 10, respectively.
The new positions will bring the states number of criminal appeals seats to 12.
Applications for the state Supreme Court position left by Justice Penny White will be accepted until Sept. 25. The commission is tentatively scheduled to meet Oct. 11 in Nashville to conduct a public hearing and interview applicants for the position.
The application deadline and meeting date could be revised because of confusion surrounding residency requirements for potential justices, said Charles Ferrell, administrative director of the courts.
"At the request of the Judicial Selection Commission, I have asked for an expedited opinion as to the grand division of the state in which applicants must reside to be considered for the at-large Supreme Court position," Ferrell said.
Attorney General Charles Burson has yet to make a decision in the matter, said Sue Allison, public information officer for the Administrative Office of the Courts.
"As it stands now this office will accept applications from anyone who chooses to apply and then that question will be answered presumably before the deadline," Allison said.
White served in an at-large seat but had residency in Johnson City. It is uncertain if the new justice filling her position will have to be from the eastern district to preserve balance on the court.
The unanswered question surrounding the seat will pose a problem for the selection commission.
"The question of whether this at-large position can come from East Tennessee or West Tennessee or only East Tennessee is a real tricky question," Freidman said.
The judicial selection process is a long one. First the hopefuls submit a lengthy application to the Administrative Office of the Courts in Nashville. From there, the selection commission reviews the applicants and submits three of them to the governor for selection.
Local attorney John McCarroll was sworn in Friday to fill an open Circuit Court seat in Memphis. The Circuit Court Division 1 position was vacated when Judge Wyeth Chandler retired Aug. 16. McCarroll previously was a judge but left the bench for private practice.