Task Force on Judicial Conduct Rules

The TBA Task Force on Judicial Conduct Rules was appointed by President Gail Vaughn Ashworth to study Tennessee's judicial ethics rules and consider whether revisions are needed.

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Editorial Supports Changes to Code of Judicial Conduct

An editorial in the Knoxville News Sentinel says recent changes by the state Supreme Court to the Code of Judicial Conduct regarding judges and judicial candidates’ election campaign conduct “do not appear to impinge on the integrity of the judicial system.” While the editorial laments that the changes make the contests for judicial seats more political, it argues the changes “reflect the new reality that Tennessee's judicial elections are becoming more like other political contests.”

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Wade's Replacement Will Be First Under New System

Justice Gary Wade's decision to retire from the Tennessee Supreme Court on Sept. 8 will be the first real test of the state's new system for selecting judges, Nashville Public Radio reports. This opening will be the first filled under the new plan that Tennessee voters approved through a constitutional amendment last November. The measure gave state lawmakers the power, for the first time, to review the governor's nominations to the Supreme Court and reject his selection. State law doesn't require Gov. Bill Haslam to move quickly in choosing a replacement but Allan Ramsaur, executive director of the Tennessee Bar Association, says Haslam shouldn't wait long to choose. Ramsaur says he worries about the possibility that a four-judge Supreme Court could split 2-2 on a case, with no one to break the tie. He adds it will be hard for the court to stay on top of its work: with Wade gone, other justices will have to write more opinions and review more cases.

A spokeswoman says Haslam plans to have a nominee in place by January, when state lawmakers reconvene for the 2016 legislative session. The Tennessee Supreme Court, meanwhile, still plans to go ahead with a full slate this fall. No oral arguments have been canceled.

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