TBA to poll lawyers on judicial retention

Staff Reports • May 31, 2014 at 7:00 PM

For the first time in its history, the Tennessee Bar Association will conduct a Tennessee Supreme Court Candidate Evaluation Poll to compile the views of TBA members on the upcoming retention election for three justices. 

The TBA is taking this unprecedented step as part of its efforts to help ensure that the 2014 judicial elections maintain a fair, impartial and accountable judiciary.

In the August General Election, Tennessee voters will be asked to retain or replace three Supreme Court justices, Chief Justice Gary Wade, Justice Cornelia Clark and Justice Sharon Lee. The poll will ask TBA members to rate each of these justices with one of four options: 

• highly recommend retention.

• recommend retention.

• do not recommend retention.

• do not have an informed opinion at this time. 

Voting will be by secret ballot. The poll opened Tuesday and will close June 9. Results will be released in mid-June. 

The TBA is conducting the poll because it believes lawyers are uniquely qualified to provide an informed opinion as to whether a justice should be retained. It hopes that in providing the collective view of the organized bar, it can help Tennessee voters educate themselves about the election.

The TBA also is making information available for voters through its Judicial Selection Information Center. Resources include lists of candidates running, evaluations of sitting judges, a campaign code of conduct and several guides to help voters evaluate judicial candidates. The page also provides a link to the “Informed Voters – Fair Judges” project, which the TBA is cosponsoring with the Tennessee Association for Justice, the Tennessee League of Women Voters and the National Association of Women Judges. 

Tennessee is one of eight states to participate in the pilot project, which provides nonpartisan information about the judicial system, qualities to look for in a good judge and a link to request a speaker about the issues.

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