NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

Kyle Seeks AG Opinion on Filling His Senate Vacancy

The Shelby County Democratic Party is preparing to select a nominee to fill the vacancy Memphis Sen. Jim Kyle’s departure from the state Legislature will create. But the outgoing upper-chamber minority leader has concerns about how that process will unfold.

On Friday, Kyle, who is retiring after 31 years in the Senate, requested that the state attorney general issue an opinion that sorts out the legal issues surrounding how to select a nominee to run as his replacement to the General Assembly.

Kyle’s request comes on the heels of Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron, a former state senator, telling local party officials that there was confusion about the local caucus process they’ve indicated they will employ to select the nominee. Herron has concerns about the timing of the caucus, who can vote at the caucus, whether the decision would be made by a majority or plurality of votes and whether it would be a public roll-call vote or by secret ballot, according to the Commercial Appeal.

Kyle won a Shelby County judgeship on Aug. 7. and will resign from the Legislature after he’s sworn-in on Aug. 29. However, state law doesn’t provide for a government-run open primary when the timing of a vacancy in the Senate occurs so close to voters going to the polls in November. Instead, officials from the county parties are authorized to choose nominees for the general election ballot.

Democrats such as Sara Kyle, Sen. Kyle’s wife, and former state Sen. Beverly Marrero, who Kyle defeated in the 2012 primary, have expressed interest in the seat. Additionally, current Shelby County Tennessee House members Antonio “2-Shay” Parkinson and G.A. Hardaway, may also be looking to move to the General Assembly’s upper chamber.

Following the GOP-led redistricting in 2011, Marrero and Kyle found themselves opponents in the 2012 Democratic primary. After her primary loss, Marrero told TNReport that she felt “betrayed” by Kyle’s request to Republicans that he be drawn into a race against her instead of State Sen. Brian Kelsey, a Germantown Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Press Releases

Judicial Appt. Commission Accepting Applications for Shelby Co. Chancery Court Vacancy

Press release from the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts; August 14, 2014: 

The Governor’s Commission for Judicial Appointments is now accepting applications for the chancellor vacancy in the 30th Judicial District Chancery Court (Shelby County). The vacancy has been created by the appointment of Chancellor Kenny Armstrong to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, effective September 1.

Any interested applicant must be a licensed attorney who is at least 30 years of age, a resident of the state for five years, and a resident of the 30th Judicial District. Applicants must complete the designated application, which is available at, and submit it to the Administrative Office of the Courts by 3 p.m. on Monday, August 25, 2014.

The Governor’s Commission for Judicial Appointments will interview all qualified applicants in Memphis at a location to be announced. The meeting will include a public hearing, during which members of the public may express their opinions about the applicants. The interview and public hearing will be open to the public.

More information and the application can be found here.

Press Releases

Public Meeting to be Held to Interview Prospective Judges for 8th District Vacancy

Press release from the Tennessee Courts System; January 2, 2013:

Six attorneys have applied to fill the Chancery Court vacancy in the 8th Judicial District, which serves Campbell, Claiborne, Fentress, Scott and Union counties. The vacancy was created by the death of the Honorable Billy Joe White in November.

The Judicial Nominating Commission will hold a public meeting to interview the following candidates:

Elizabeth C. Asbury
Asbury Law Office
Jacksboro, Tennessee

James L. Cotton, Jr.
General Session Judge
Scott County
Oneida, Tennessee

Kathy Parrott
Attorney & President
PryorParrott PC
Jacksboro, Tennessee

Charles Patrick Sexton
Sexton, Sexton, & Kazee, P.C.
Oneida, Tennessee

Thomas Jackson Tabor, Jr.
Tazewell, Tennessee

Andrew R. Tillman
Senior Law Clerk
Honorable Charles D. Susano, Jr., Tennessee Court of Appeals
Knoxville, Tennessee

The application for each candidate can be accessed by clicking on their names above.

The public hearing will be held at 9 a.m. EST, Friday January 18, 2013 at Woodlake Lodge, Golf & Country Club, 330 Woodlake Blvd., Tazewell, TN 37879. During the public hearing, attorneys and members of the public may express their approval or objections to the candidates.

To get from the Claiborne County Courthouse to the Woodlake Lodge, go north on Main Street toward Court Street, turn right onto Court Street; take the first left onto Dixie Highway, US-25E, then take the 1st right onto TN-32 S/TN-33 N/US-25E. Go about 3.6 miles, then turn right onto Y Road, then right on Lone Mountain Road. Go 1.7 miles, then turn left onto Woodlake Boulevard and go one-half mile to 330 Woodlake Boulevard.

You can access a map and directions here.

Following the public hearing, the commission will interview each applicant before recommending three candidates to the governor. Members of the public are invited to attend both the public hearing and the interviews.