3 Memphians Among State Supreme Court Applicants

By Bill Dries

Two Memphis judges and a Shelby County Commissioner are among the five applicants for a vacancy on the Tennessee Supreme Court.


Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft, Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Holly M. Kirby and Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy have submitted applications to the Governor’s Commission on Judicial Appointments, the newly formed body that will send a list of three finalists to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

Mulroy is a professor of law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and had been among finalists U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen considered recommending to President Barack Obama for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Cohen eventually recommended attorney Sheri Lipman, who Obama then nominated for the federal position.

Mulroy has also been considering a bid for the Democratic nomination for Shelby County mayor in the May 2014 county primaries.

The two other applicants for the Tennessee Supreme Court position are William L. Jenkins Jr., a partner in the Dyersburg law firm Wilkerson Gauldin Hayes Jenkins & Dedmon, and John Brook Lathram, a member of the Memphis law firm Bass, Berry & Sims PLC.

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder announced earlier this year that she would not seek re-election to the court in the August 2014 judicial retention elections but would serve out her full eight-year term, which runs out Aug. 30, after the election. The timing leaves open, at least for now, the question of whose name would be on the ballot since there won’t be a vacancy on the court until after the election.

Several other state appellate court judges also announced they would not seek re-election.

The new commission plans to meet Nov. 13 in Nashville to interview the applicants and then submit a list of three finalists to Haslam.

Meanwhile, five attorneys and one Memphis judge applied to fill Judge David R. Farmer’s seat on the Tennessee Court of Appeals, Western Section. Like Holder, Farmer’s resignation is effective Aug. 30, at the end of his term of office.

Applicants include Shelby County Chancellor Kenny Armstrong; Frank S. Cantrell, the deputy director of Memphis Area Legal Services Inc.; Brandon O. Gipson, attorney and partner with Pentecost & Glenn PLLC of Jackson; Rhynette Northcross Hurd of Memphis mediation practice Ridder Hurd PLLC; attorney Edward L. Martindale Jr. of Jackson; and Dorothy Pounders, managing partner of Pounders Coleman PLLC of Memphis.

The new commission plans to meet Nov. 12 in Jackson to interview those applicants.