2014 Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct Program - Articles

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Posted by: Allan Ramsaur on Oct 22, 2013

The Tennessee Bar Association is renewing its program that invites judges and judicial candidates in the August 2014 judicial elections to agree to a campaign code aimed at preserving public faith in the integrity of the justice system.

The vast majority of judicial candidates participated in the highly successful 2006 program, pledging to conduct their campaigns under the Tennessee Fair Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct.

The TBA Judicial Campaign Conduct Committee will oversee the program. The committee is chaired by Chattanooga lawyer and former TBA President Sam Elliott, and includes prominent lawyers and citizen members from across the state. Members are:

  • Mary Beard, George Brown Buck Wellford, and Berje Yacoubian of Memphis;
  • Lew Conner, Jackie Dixon and Anne Martin of Nashville;
  • Elizabeth Blackstone of Columbia;
  • Lance Bracy of Goodlettsville;
  • Ron Kirkland of Jackson;
  • Jimmie Miller of Kingsport; and
  • Sarah Sheppeard of Knoxville.

Announcing the effort today, TBA President Cindy Wyrick said, “Judicial elections are different. Judges must run on a pledge that they will conduct themselves in a fair and impartial manner if elected. A judicial candidate who might be asked to pre-judge a case or to comment on legal issues might have to step aside, or recuse himself or herself, if they already announced how they would rule.”

More than 189 judicial candidates subscribed to the code in the 2006 election in which all state judges were up for election. In August 2014, four Supreme Court justices, 21 Court of Appeals judges, all 153 trial court judges and every general sessions and juvenile judge in the state will be on the ballot. Under the Tennessee Constitution, the elections for all judges take place at the same time and for eight-year terms.

Those judicial candidates who subscribe to the Tennessee Fair Judicial Campaign Code of Conduct are now listed on the TBA's website, which also includes general information about judicial campaigns and a voter guide called “Judging Judges.”

Sitting judges and judicial candidates are all bound by the same rules. Most may form their campaign finance committees in early November, pick up election petitions in late November and file to qualify in mid-February. The goal of the TBA program is to provide citizens with appropriate criteria and information to make informed decisions.