As a prosecutor in this state now for more than 37 years, I have seen more victims of crime than I care to count. These are victims of terrible crimes, and many times, these victims have no one to speak for them but the State and nothing else to protect them but our Tennessee and U.S. constitutions.
Sometimes victims feel the courts fail them because laws don’t rise up to meet the crime. For many years my fellow prosecutors, and I have pleaded with our lawmakers for harsher penalties to ensure that those who commit crimes are properly penalized. The enactment of those penalties and of all of our laws lies within the General Assembly.
Our police and sheriffs’ departments, we prosecutors and those in the judiciary don’t make the laws. We must all follow them and do our best to enforce them.
That is exactly what Justice Connie Clark, Justice Sharon Lee and Chief Justice Gary Wade have done in our Tennessee Supreme Court. They each took a solemn oath to uphold our state and federal Constitutions and the laws passed by our General Assembly including the penalty for capital crimes.
Earlier this week a bipartisan group of current and retired prosecutors from across Tennessee joined to announce our support for these three Justices, and perhaps more importantly, a Tennessee Supreme Court that is fair, impartial and free of politics. We know these three justices to have outstanding records, and we also know that when the other side launched a political attack saying they are “soft on crime” that is just not true.
While as prosecutors we may have different views on some of the cases or rulings, we can all agree that Clark, Lee and Wade have upheld about 90 percent of the death penalty cases that have come before them. That is nine out of 10, and by anyone’s math, that is a high rate. They have protected our individual rights as Tennesseans, and they have protected our rights to be safe in our homes and in our communities.
Personally, I understand that all three of these justices protect our rights under our Tennessee and U.S. Constitutions and they are tough on criminals. They are fair and impartial judges. They have kept our Supreme Court a politics-free zone. That is all I need to know. All three of these justices should be retained.
Tommy Thompson Jr. with the 15th Judicial District is Tennessee’s longest-serving district attorney general at 37 years – possibly making him the nation’s longest-serving prosecutor. He is currently running unopposed for another eight-year term serving Wilson, Smith, Macon, Jackson and Trousdale counties.