Press Release from House Speaker Beth Harwell & Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Aug. 19, 2011:
(August 19, 2011, NASHVILLE) – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R—Blountville) and House Speaker Beth Harwell (R—Nashville) today announced their respective appointments to the Ad Hoc Joint Committee on the Court of the Judiciary. The bipartisan, bicameral committee will be charged with examining issues surrounding the Court of the Judiciary—an entity created to investigate complaints against judges and administer punishment for infractions when warranted.
The joint committee will be led by Senate Judiciary Chairman Mae Beavers (R—Mt. Juliet) and House Judiciary Chairman Eric Watson (R—Cleveland). In letters released today, Ramsey announced Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville), Sen. Ophelia Ford (D—Memphis), and Sen. Brian Kelsey (R—Germantown) will take the three Senate seats on the panel. Speaker Harwell notified Rep. Jim Coley (R—Bartlett), Rep. Eddie Bass (D—Prospect), and Rep. Rick Womick (R—Rockvale) of their appointment.
Lt. Governor Ramsey stated, “Tennessee deserves a quality judiciary. To achieve and sustain that quality we must maintain the highest standards not only for our judges but those charged with keeping them honest. I’m confident that the lawmakers we have appointed will work diligently to keep the Court of the Judiciary on mission, transparent and completely accountable.
Harwell agreed and added, “These are proven leaders on judicial reform who want to see our system perform efficiently and fairly. I look forward to hearing about their ideas for reforming the Court of the Judiciary and making sure our judges are conducting their courtrooms in fair and appropriate ways.”
“Having observed the Court of the Judiciary for many years, I am more convinced than ever of the need for serious and extensive reform,” stated Chairman Beavers. “Tennessee’s judicial branch is just as important as the legislative and the executive. Their decisions, interpretations and opinions have consequences that affect the lives of real people. In order to have a serious judiciary we must have a serious body overseeing them. The Court of the Judiciary must be beyond reproach. I look forward to leading the effort to make it so.”
Chairman Watson concluded, “I have constantly advocated for greater transparency and more careful oversight when it comes to the actions of the Court of the Judiciary. We have a fantastic legal system in Tennessee but we need to ensure the CoJ reviews complaints in a timely manner and acts swiftly when it is called for. Requiring greater clarity in the judicial system is a legitimate interest of the General Assembly and I am proud to help lead that effort.”
The Joint Committee on the Court of the Judiciary is scheduled to meet September 20th and 21st at 9am in Legislative Plaza.