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AG: Haslam Can Still Appoint Judges in Absence of Nominating Committee

Gov. Bill Haslam has the authority to fill judicial vacancies now the Judicial Nominating Commission has ceased to operate, Tennessee’s Attorney General has declared.

Haslam requested the opinion from Attorney General Bob Cooper after the General Assembly failed to reauthorize the JNC at the end of the last legislative session. The Legislature didn’t replace commission with an alternative mechanism for appointing judges. The panel was created in 2009 to screen applicants and select nominees for judicial appointments.

“After the Judicial Nominating Commission terminated this past session, our office requested guidance from the Attorney General on the governor’s options for appointing judges going forward,” said Dave Smith, spokesman for the governor.

Smith said Haslam wants continuity in the process until a proposed state constitutional amendment establishing a new judicial selection process appears on the November 2014 ballot. In 2012, the General Assembly approved a measure to amend the Tennessee Constitution that would apply to all Supreme Court justices and other appellate judges.

“The governor will now have further discussions with legislative leadership on next steps in working toward the common goal of a fully functioning judiciary in Tennessee,” Smith said.

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