Complaint: Judges on Ballot Illegally

A complaint has been filed with the Board of Judicial Conduct charging that the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission illegally certified all the appellate court judges on the ballot in the August election.

Nashville Judge Hamilton Gayden ruled that the Evaluation Commission was illegally constituted because it was required to reflect the minority and gender makeup of the state. While Speaker Beth Harwell had appointed two men and two women, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey appointed all men and thus the commission had a seven-men and two-women makeup, when there are more women than men in the state population.

The group filing the complaint appeared before the commission to point out that the commission had to be five females and four males according to the law and therefore was sitting illegally. The commission went ahead and approved all of the members of the appellate courts for the ballot.

The latest complaint, from John Jay Hooker, Tony Gottlieb, Walter Brumit, and Holly Spann, says the judges on the ballot know they were illegally certified.

Judge Gayden came back after the fact and ruled that the commission was sitting "de facto" as a legal body, but the complaint argues that the subsequent ruling does not change the fact that the commission acted knowing it was illegally constituted.