Court Upholds Statewide Voting for Appellate Judges

John Jay Hooker, known for repeated challenges to the state's judicial retention election system, is pursuing yet another Supreme Court review of the issue. His latest challenge, which will be heard by a special court, questions whether the current system is constitutional but also raises the issue of whether it is constitutional for appellate judges to be elected statewide. Since each judge is assigned to one of the state’s three grand divisions, Hooker claims that voting should be limited to those residing in each division. Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Hamilton Gayden Jr. recently rejected all but this element of Hooker’s suit. Last week, the Court of Appeals overruled him on that point. Writing for the court, Judge Herschel P. Frank said that state laws establishing the Court of Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals “defined the entire state of Tennessee as the district to which the intermediate court judges are assigned" so "their election by a statewide retention election” is constitutional. Hooker has appealed to the Supreme Court. The Memphis Daily News reports