Tennessee Code Annotated

Title 17: Judges and Chancellors

Chapter 4: Judicial Nomination and Performance Evaluation

Part 1: Judicial Nomination

TCA 17-4-109: Judicial vacancies -- Public meeting of commission -- Notice -- Interviews with candidates -- Additional meetings -- Voting -- Certification of nominees.

(a) (1) If a vacancy occurs during the term of office of a judge of the court of appeals or court of criminal appeals, then the judicial nominating commission shall, at the earliest practicable date, hold a public meeting in the grand division from which the vacancy is to be filled. However, if an incumbent judge fails to file a written declaration of candidacy required by SC 17-4-114 or SC 17-4-115, or if the commission is reliably informed that a vacancy is impending for another reason, then the public meeting may be held prior to the actual occurrence of the vacancy.

(2) If a vacancy occurs during the term of office of a judge of the supreme court, then the judicial nominating commission shall, at the earliest practicable date, hold a public meeting in Nashville. However, if an incumbent judge fails to file a written declaration of candidacy as required by SC 17-4-114 or SC 17-4-115, or if the commission is reliably informed that a vacancy is impending for another reason, then the public meeting may be held prior to the actual occurrence of the vacancy.

(b) Notice of the time, place and purpose of the meeting shall be given by newspapers, radio news and television news and by such other means as the commission deems proper.

(c) Any citizen, attorney or non-attorney, shall be entitled to attend the meeting and express orally or in writing the citizen's approval of or objections to any suggested nominee for the judicial vacancy. Any licensed attorney may appear and make a statement, oral or written, in support of the attorney's own nomination.

(d) After one (1) public hearing, the commission may hold such additional interviews with the candidates as it deems necessary. The commission shall make independent investigation and inquiry to determine the qualifications of possible nominees for the judicial vacancy and shall endeavor to encourage qualified attorneys to accept nomination and agree to serve if appointed to the judicial vacancy. All hearings, interviews, meetings and deliberations of the commission shall be conducted publicly and shall comply with title 8, chapter 44, part 1; provided, however, that when selecting nominees, commission members shall vote anonymously by written ballots, but the ballots shall be collected, announced and tallied at the meeting by the presiding officer. The Tennessee bureau of investigation Level II security clearance as to nominees shall be performed exclusively at the direction of the governor, acting pursuant to SC 17-4-112(a)(2).

(e) As soon as practicable, and no later than sixty (60) days from receipt of written notice from the governor that a vacancy has occurred, the commission, with the assent of a majority of all the members to which it is entitled under SC 17-4-102(a), shall select three (3) persons whom the commission deems best qualified and available to fill the vacancy and shall certify the names of the three (3) persons to the governor as nominees for the judicial vacancy. However, if an incumbent judge fails to file a written declaration of candidacy as required by SC 17-4-114 or SC 17-4-115, or if the commission is reliably informed that a vacancy is impending for any other reason, then the commission may meet, select such persons and certify the names of such nominees to the governor prior to actual receipt of written notice from the governor that a vacancy has occurred.

(f) The judicial nominating commission, in compiling its list of nominees for a supreme court position, shall ensure that the requirements of article VI, SC 2, of the Tennessee Constitution are satisfied.

(g) In the event three (3) or fewer applicants apply for any vacancy in which the judicial nominating commission must hold a public meeting, members of the judicial nominating commission may participate in the public meeting by telephone or other means of telecommunication or electronic communication.

History: Acts 2009, ch. 517, SC 1; 2012, ch. 853, SC 4.