Sen. Bell on Committee ‘Taking a Hard Look’ at TN Court of the Judiciary

Press Release from the Office of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Aug. 16, 2011:

(NASHVILLE, TN) – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) today announced the appointment of Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) to the Ad-Hoc Joint Committee on the Court of the Judiciary.

The committee is tasked with taking a hard look at the Court of Judiciary with an eye to reforming the body to increase transparency and accountability. Senator Mae Beavers, in her role as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman will be calling the first meeting to order.

“Sen. Bell has shown time and time again that his outsider perspective on judicial issues is exactly the kind of outlook we need in the legislature,” said Lt. Gov. Ramsey. “The Court of the Judiciary is clearly in need of serious and comprehensive reform. Sen. Bell is a tireless reformer. I look forward to his contributions on how to bring this rogue court in line.”

“The Court of the Judiciary as it currently functions is clearly broken,” said Sen. Bell. “I’m looking forward to working towards improving the manner in which we keep judges accountable in this state.”

A special legislative committee held hearings last year into the Court of the Judiciary found that of the hundreds of annual complaints lodged against judges around 90% are dismissed. Proceedings are not open to the public and reprimands are rarely disclosed publically. There have also been reports of shredding documents regarding dismissed cases.

Sen. Beavers brought a bill during the last session of the legislative session which would have reconstituted the Court and required increased transparency. That bill, Senate Bill 1088, is set to be on the 1st calendar when the legislature returns in January.