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VOL. 125 | NO. 102 | Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New Vacancies Add to Judicial Races on Ballot

By Bill Dries

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The Aug. 5 election will feature five special judicial elections.

One of the two latest races to go on the ballot is for the Criminal Court Division 3 judge’s position being vacated by John Colton, whose resignation is effective April 30. He originally set the date for June 30, but changed it so the vacancy could be up for public vote.

On the Ballot

The two latest races join three others in which the fields are already set for the August judicial election.
Circuit Court Division 4
Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed Lorrie K. Ridder to the vacancy created by the death in January 2009 of Rita Stotts.
Also in the race are attorneys Michael G. Floyd and Gina Higgins.
Circuit Court Division 8
Bredesen appointed Rhynette Hurd to the vacancy created by the September retirement of D’Army Bailey.
She faces attorneys JoeDae Jenkins and Venita Martin, who were the other two finalists recommended by the Judicial Selection Commission to Bredesen, as well as attorney Robert Weiss
General Sessions Criminal Court Division 10
Lee Wilson was appointed by the Shelby County Commission following the death in January 2009 of Anthony Johnson.
He faces former General Sessions Court Clerk Chris Turner.

The Judicial Selection Commission will not act to fill the vacancy before the election.

The other vacancy is in General Sessions Criminal Court Division 7, where Judge Ann Pugh has resigned effective May 31. Pugh had intended to resign Aug. 31, but also moved the effective date.

The Shelby County Commission is scheduled to appoint an interim judge at its June 7 meeting.

The filing deadline for the two recent vacancies is noon June 11. The candidates have until noon June 14 to withdraw.

Assistant District Attorney General Bobby Carter is the latest judicial candidate to make his political debut. He opened his campaign Friday for Criminal Court Division 3 in East Memphis at the Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz law firm.

Former District Attorney General John Pierotti is Carter’s campaign treasurer.

Carter was introduced and endorsed by Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons.

So far, the other contenders in the field include defense attorney Gerald Skahan and LaTonya Burrow, an attorney and former chief administrative officer for the General Sessions Court Clerk’s Office.

“Most voters don’t know much of anything about the judicial candidates. Those of you who are running for judge will find that out,” Gibbons told the crowd of Carter supporters. “Really, it’s just a lot of hard work – grassroots work in a very short period of time – getting your yard signs up, having poll workers at the polls on Election Day as well as early voting.”

Memphis Bar Association president Ricky E. Wilkins told The Daily News the races are important decisions for voters.

“Judges are essential in ensuring the fair and impartial administration of justice and they have the greatest impact in influencing how the public perceives our system of justice,” Wilkins said. “Accordingly, it is essential that we elect the best lawyers possible to be judge – lawyers who have experience, the intellectual acumen and the compassion for being fair.”

Carter and the other candidates can make no specific promises.

“I can be and I will be an incredibly zealous advocate for the system," Carter told supporters before acknowledging the tight time frame for the race. "I think that our criminal (court) judges are so important."

“I told my wife, I can do P90x and spend 90 days working out for an hour or so a day – maybe be a little better off at the end of it,” Carter said referring to the popular physical fitness regimen. “Or I can take that same 90 days and work for more than an hour a day … and maybe we’ll all be a little better off at the end of it.”

The contenders who have filed so far to run for General Sessions Criminal Court Judge Division 7 are Mischelle Alexander Best, a former General Sessions Criminal Court judge; Taurus Martin Bailey, an attorney at the Walter Bailey Law Firm; Bryan A. Davis, an assistant district attorney; Bill Anderson Jr., an attorney in private practice; and Cathy Hailey Kent.

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