Press Releases

Durard Replaces Crigler on 17th District Circuit Court Bench

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; June 11, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Forest A. Durard Jr. as circuit court judge for the 17th Judicial District, replacing Judge Robert Crigler, who retired effective May 30.

“Forest brings valuable experience to the bench from a career that includes both the public and private sectors,” Haslam said. “I know he will serve the citizens of the 17th district well in this role.”

Durard, 51, has been in private practice since 2004. Prior to that, he was a partner in the firm Bramlett & Durard, beginning in 1992. Durard served in the district attorney’s office of the 17th Judicial District from 1989-1990 and in the public defender’s office of the district from 1990-1992.

“I am both flattered and honored to have been chosen by Gov. Haslam for this position,” Durard said. “I would like to thank the governor and his staff for placing their trust in me to fill the judicial vacancy and, also, to those who encouraged and supported me to seek the position. I look forward to serving the people of Bedford, Marshall, Moore and Lincoln counties now and into the future.”

Durard’s work as a sole practitioner has included criminal law, domestic matters, probate, personal injury/workers’ compensation, bankruptcy, Social Security disability and real estate. Prior to his career in law, Durard was an insurance claims adjuster.

Durard graduated from the Nashville School of Law in 1989. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1985 with a bachelor of science degree, majoring in political science with an emphasis on pre-law, and minoring in criminal justice and history. He is a lifelong Tennessean and has lived in Bedford County 21 years.

Durard has been active in his community as an assistant coach for middle school softball and as a volunteer at Shelbyville Bedford County Animal Control and board member of the Middle Tennessee Spay & Neuter Clinic. He and his wife, Melissa, have two daughters, Taylor and Kendall.

Press Releases

Senate Judiciary Approves Resolution Calling for Governor-appointed Supreme Court Justices

Press release from the Senate Republican Caucus; April 4, 2012:

(NASHVILLE, TN), April 4, 2012 — Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee gave approval to a major constitutional amendment resolution sponsored by State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) to appoint state appellate judges in a manner similar to the federal model. U.S. Supreme Court justices, Courts of Appeals judges, and District Court judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate, as stated in the U.S. Constitution. Similarly, under Senate Joint Resolution 710, Tennessee’s Governor would appoint judges to the Supreme Court and state appellate courts, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly for eight year terms.

“Tennessee deserves and the Constitution demands a more open system for appointing judges,” said Sen. Kelsey. “This is a proposal that takes the best parts of the federal model and the Tennessee Plan that will give us quality judges who are responsive to the people.”

Tennessee’s Constitution requires that Supreme Court justices “shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state,” which concerns many lawmakers who believe the current system does not fully satisfy that mandate despite an Attorney General opinion to the contrary. Earlier this year, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, Governor Bill Haslam and House Speaker Beth Harwell also said legislative action is needed to ensure it is constitutionally correct.

Under the state’s current Tennessee Plan for selecting appellate judges, a 17-member Judicial Nominating Commission reviews applicants and sends the governor a panel of three nominees for consideration. The governor must then appoint one of the nominees or reject the panel and request a second panel. After being appointed through this process, the appellate judges must stand for approval by the voters after completion of their term, with the people deciding whether or not to “retain” or “replace” them.

Kelsey’s legislation would delete the Judicial Nominating Commission, giving the Governor full authority like the federal model to select the nominee he/she believes is best qualified to serve as judge. His resolution, however, would keep the current Tennessee Plan provision which gives voters an opportunity to retain or replace the judge through a statewide vote. Only state Supreme Court and appellate judges would be affected by the proposed changes. Trial court judges would continue to run in contested elections.

If approved by the General Assembly, the measure could be on the ballot as early as November 2014. Before proceeding to a vote by the people, the resolution must be approved by a simple majority of the legislature in 2012 after three readings and must receive a two-thirds majority of both chambers in the following legislative session.