streettalk (2007-39)

Street Talk

How would you describe the judicial scene in Knoxville?

We are fortunate to have the judges that we have. In every case, there is usually a winner and a loser, and in Knoxville and Knox County, you can be assured that the judge who heard your case listened to you and your client and made his or her decision based on the evidence, the law, and what is fair. What I like the most about our judges is the variety of personalities, their conviction to â“get it right,â” and their great sense of humor.

Iâ’ve heard it said they should install revolving doors at the courthouse to make it easier for repeat offenders. Do you find it hard to represent clients you know are complete dirtbags?

First of all, there is a revolving door at the courthouse. Itâ’s at the entrance of the City County Building, and I walk through it everyday. As far as the very descriptive word â“dirtbag,â” that label may be a little harsh. Focusing on the criminal-justice system, the only people who I believe deserve to be called something like â“dirtbagâ” are folks who commit crimes like the murders of the young couple in North Knoxville. As for most of the people who become criminal defendants, they have deeper issues and deserve pity rather than disrespect. One problem is the number of Knoxvilleâ’s homeless population. Another problem, I believe, is rampant drug abuse. With programs implemented by the courts like Drug Court and other initiatives, people can and have â“become reformed,â” as you call it, but the problem is still there. As to my representing criminal defendants, my job is not only to defend people but also to defend the integrity of the process. We have to be able to rely on the Tennessee and United States Constitution as we go through our lives day-to-day.

Do you have aspirations of becoming a judge, or throwing your hat into the political ring?

I have enjoyed sitting for judges when they need me. It is a huge responsibility to assume when you put on the robe. For now, I am happy practicing law. I like what I do, and I like the people I work with in my office, the clerkâ’s office, and the courthouse. As for throwing my hat into the political ring, I feel like I am already there. People do not always realize how political the legal profession is in general. As for Knox Countyâ’s political ring at present, we need better guidance from our leaders. Friends should be able to go to lunch together, but the taxpayers should not have to pay for it. We also need to heal from what has happened over the past couple of years. Knox County can recover and grow. Ten years ago, there were tumbleweeds blowing through Market Square, and I remember someone telling me that â“Knoxville is a great place to live, but I would not want to visit.â” Now, between Market Square and Gay Street, with all the restaurants, shops, and the movie theater, I can truly say Knoxville is a great place to live and a great place to visit.


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