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Contested ballot for chancery court post rarely seen

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A note for a related editorial and apology to our readers appeared in the print edition of this story. It is on the Web at www.stategazette.com/story/1437136.html


The election in August to fill the vacant seat of the 29th Judicial District Chancery Court is historic; the position seldom has been contested.

Lanier in 1982
Only three judges have held the post in the last 74 years.

Robert D. Jones became judge of the Dyer County Law and Equity Court in 1934 and retired in 1982. During his almost half-century tenure, Jones faced a challenger only once. In August 1974, Jones defeated Joe Boyd, 3,311 votes to 2,958 cast for Boyd.

Jones died in August 1995.

The Law and Equity court was created in the 1920s and lasted in Dyer County until the early 1980s, when it was only one of two remaining in Tennessee. The Law and Equity Court's matters were subsumed by the duties of the existing Chancery Court.

The 9th District Chancery Court covered several counties in West Tennessee, but in the 1988 judicial realignment, Dyer and Lake counties were united in the current 29th Judicial District.

When Jones retired in 1982, former Dyersburg mayor David Lanier won the Law and Equity and Chancery Court judgeship in a four-way race with attorneys Charles M. "Bubba" Agee, Joe Boyd and John Palmer.

Lanier held the post until April 1993, when he was removed by the state legislature after he was indicted in federal court for civil rights violations.

Retired Weakley County judge Homer Bradberry was appointed in August 1992 by the Tennessee Supreme Court to serve temporarily as chancellor.

Attorney Steve Stafford was appointed chancellor by Gov. Ned McWherter in May 1993, where he served without opposition until he was appointed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals on June 12.

Stafford was two years into his second full eight-year term when he was named the appeals court.

Four people have qualified to run for the post -- Dyersburg attorney Mark Hayes, Dyer County General Sessions Judge Tony Childress, Lake County General Sessions Judge Danny Goodman and Dyersburg attorney Steve Scofield.

The election is Aug. 7.

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I vote for Goodman . He is very fair I think.

-- Posted by JU5T1C34@LL on Sat, Jun 21, 2008, at 11:07 PM

Goodman 'o8!

-- Posted by youknowimright on Sun, Jun 22, 2008, at 9:03 PM

Though all his decisions may not be "popular," he is, without a doubt, fair to all. My vote and support has to go to Goodman.

-- Posted by preponderance on Sun, Jun 22, 2008, at 9:48 PM

it is a shame how incompetence gets rewarded in this town and state.


heaven help this town and west tn!

-- Posted by name removed on Tue, Jun 24, 2008, at 2:13 AM

My vote is for Childress. He has the experience and knows what farmers go through.

-- Posted by scorpio5011 on Tue, Jun 24, 2008, at 9:51 PM

vote,vote, vote, vote, vote, vote on your choice............ people who don't vote have no right to complain about any elected official............. vote, vote, vote, vote.

-- Posted by Johnny Yuma on Wed, Jun 25, 2008, at 3:28 PM

What does being a Chancery Judge have to do with "knowing what farmers go through"? The Chancery Judge hears cases such as divorce, custody, child support, estate matters, just to name a few. We need a judge that knows the domestic relations laws of Tennessee and one who has domestic relations experience. I'm sure Judge Childress is a fine man; however, he doesn't have the experience needed for the job. It is my understanding that he was a law clerk before he became the General Sessions Judge not a practicing attorney.

-- Posted by wilbur on Tue, Jul 1, 2008, at 4:20 PM

I agree that experience is important, and all the candidates seem to be experienced attorneys. The question is, what kind of experience best prepares someone to be a chancery judge? Seems to me that Childress has the best kind of experience since he is a judge and worked as an attorney for the courts. I don't think that it matters that he knows what farmers go through. But I would like to know more about what a court of appeals attorney does.

-- Posted by Lizzie on Wed, Jul 9, 2008, at 3:54 PM

Wilber, you are correct. That was a stupid comment I made. And you are right about what a Chancery Court Judge does and that is exactly the kind of cases Childress handles in General Sessions. He deals with both divorce and child support on almost a daily basis. He also deals with our youth and many other cases such as domestic violence. Also, as staff attorney for the Court of Appeals he was reviewing decisions made in the Chancery Court to ensure the law was followed correctly. By doing that, he gained an even better understanding of researching cases that are put before a Chancery Court Judge. As General Sessions, he has gained even more experience and it is my belief he is more qualified than any of the other candidates. Thank you for questioning my "farmer" comment. I agree it was ill-placed.

-- Posted by scorpio5011 on Sat, Jul 12, 2008, at 5:01 PM

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