The Knoxville legal community knows Russ Dedrick as a longtime tough-as-nails federal prosecutor who spent most of his career in town. He was interim U.S. attorney several times and finally got a presidential appointment to the job before he retired.
Gov. Bill Haslam has asked Dedrick to be a special judge to decide the fate of the state court system. Haslam has had trouble finding judges to hear a case brought by John Jay Hooker challenging the way appeals court judges are selected. Hooker contends the appointment of judges and a retention election is at odds with the state constitution requiring the election of judges.
Finding attorneys and judges independent of the state judiciary has been a hard task; three original choices recused themselves. Dedrick spent his career in the federal court system and has not been part of the state court establishment. Haslam also added Memphis attorney Monica Wharton and Shelby County Judge Robert Carter Jr.