Goldin Appointed to Tennessee Appeals Court

By Bill Dries


Shelby County Chancellor Arnold Goldin has been tapped to replace Alan Highers on the Tennessee Court of Appeals at the end of next year when Highers retires.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam appointed Goldin Tuesday, Aug. 27, to the appeals court post that opens when Highers finishes his full term of office.

The appointment is a reflection of the normal process for filling judicial vacancies in a political vacuum that includes some conflicting dates that would complicate the process.

Highers is one of four appellate judges who announced this year they intend to retire at the end of their current terms, Aug. 31, 2014, without seeking re-election in the 2014 appellate judicial retention elections.

But it is unclear whether Goldin goes on the judicial retention ballot for the appeals court in the August 2014 elections. The election date, Aug. 7, is before the end of the terms of the retiring judges.

Usually judges in those courts and trial courts retire during their term of office with the governor filling the vacancy before an election, and the appointed incumbent then goes on the ballot in the retention election.

In appointing Goldin, Haslam used the judicial selection method that ended in June when the Tennessee legislature failed to renew the existence of the Judicial Nominating Commission. The governor must pick one of three finalists submitted by the commission or get a second slate from the commission of three more finalists.

The commission was a casualty of political score settling between the leaders of the House and Senate in the final days of the 2013 legislative session in Nashville. A bill from one chamber was defeated in the other, and the other chamber then returned the favor. One of the two bills that was defeated was the renewal of the nominating commission.

The legislature could restore the nominating commission when it returns to session in January. But voters across the state will vote in November 2014 on an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution that, if approved, would abolish permanently the nominating commission but keep the system of judicial retention elections.

The governor would appoint judges without having to pick from a slate of approved finalists, and the legislature would confirm his judicial nominations.

Those on the nominating commission, before it went out of business, took the notices of retirement in 2014 they had from Highers and two other appellate court judges and recommended sets of three finalists for each position as well as an alternate set of three finalists for the governor to choose from in the event he rejected the first set.

They interviewed applicants and made their recommendations before going out of existence with the July 1 start of the new fiscal year.

Just four days before the nominating commission went out of business, Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder of Memphis announced her retirement in August 2014. There was not enough time for the nominating commission to solicit applications, interview applicants and make recommendations for that position.

Goldin was appointed to the Chancery Court bench by Gov. Don Sundquist in 2002 and was elected in 2004 and won a full eight-year term in the 2006 elections.

His appointment means Haslam will be filling another vacancy in Chancery Court. But it is unclear what the process will be.