The field has been narrowed to three candidates to fill the open seat in the 8th Judicial District Chancery Court. The vacancy was created by the November death of the Hon. Billy Joe White.
Six attorneys applied, and a public meeting was held last Thursday afternoon at Woodlake Golf Club. The Judicial Nominating Commission held the meeting to interview candidates Elizabeth Asbury, James L. Cotton Jr., Kathy Parrott, Charles Patrick Sexton, Thomas Jackson Tabor Jr. and Andrew R. Tillman. Three candidates were to be chosen by the process, and those three names forwarded to Governor Bill Haslam for consideration.
Commission chairman Tom Lawless first acknowledged White’s longtime devotion to his work and the people of his district, and recognized White’s wife Cheryl, who was in the audience.
“He spent 35 years taking care of this community,” Lawless said, “and served this district well.”
After hearing a 5-minute introduction from the candidates or from someone on the candidate’s behalf, each candidate took the floor to be interviewed by the panel of commissioners. Of the 17 members of the commission, 13 were present at Thursday’s meeting. The dining room area of the golf club was filled with interested audience members as well.
When the interview process was complete, the commission took the first vote. Nine votes were needed for a candidate’s name to be sent to the governor. According to the rules of the commission, a majority vote of the total number of members is needed, not a majority of the members present.
Tillman received a unanimous vote from the commissioners present, with 13 votes. Cotton received 11 votes, so those two candidates were automatically placed on the list to be sent to Haslam. Parrott and Tabor received one vote each, so they were removed from consideration. Asbury received seven votes and Sexton received six; therefore, those two names were placed on the ballot for another vote.
The vote went back and forth, but on the eighth vote Sexton received nine votes to Asbury’s four, so his name was the third one placed on the list to forward to Haslam.
According to a representative with the Administrative Office of the Courts, the list was forwarded to the governor’s office immediately after the meeting concluded. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) will conduct background checks on the three final candidates and the governor will then conduct individual interviews with each candidate. It will take an estimated six to eight weeks for the governor to appoint someone to fill the vacancy.
The person named to the Chancery Court position will fill White’s unexpired term until the August 2014 election.