Press Releases

First Horizon General Counsel Named to Judicial Nominating Commission

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; June 13, 2013:

(June 13, 2013, NASHVILLE) – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) today announced the appointment of Charles Tuggle of Memphis to the Judicial Nominating Commission. Tuggle will fill the vacancy left by the death of commission member Elizabeth Collins.

“Identifying individuals capable of rendering prudent decisions in agreement with our laws as written is important work,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “Charles Tuggle is an accomplished attorney and executive as well as a veteran of our armed forces. I trust that he will work well with the current members of the commission to ensure Tennessee has the best possible judiciary.”

“I appreciate Lt. Governor Ramsey giving me the opportunity to serve,” said Tuggle. “I look forward to serving my state in this capacity.”

Mr. Tuggle is currently executive vice president and general counsel for First Horizon National Corp. Tuggle practiced law for 30 years with the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz before joining the FTN Financial division of First Tennessee Bank as chief risk officer in 2003.

Tuggle earned a bachelor of arts degree from Rhodes College and his Juris Doctorate from Emory University. Tuggle is a graduate of the Georgia State University ROTC program and served as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army.

The Judicial Nominating Commission was created in 2009 when Lt. Governor Ramsey reformed the process for selecting Tennessee’s appellate judges to provide more transparency and accountability in the judiciary. The commission has 17 members and is responsible for making judicial nominations to state appellate courts and the state Supreme Court when vacancies arise.

Press Releases

Governor, Speakers Announce Constitutional Authorization Effort for TN’s Existing Judicial Selection Process

Press release from Gov. Bill Haslam; Jan. 25, 2012:

Recommending constitutional amendment and extension of Judicial Nominating Commission

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt.Gov. Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) and House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) today announced a joint proposal to address how judges are chosen in Tennessee.

The three stood together for the announcement during a press conference in the Executive Conference Room of the State Capitol where they outlined the plan that includes a resolution to amend the Tennessee Constitution that would apply to all Supreme Court justices and other appellate judges saying that they:

  • Will be nominated by a commission based on merit;
  • Will be appointed by the Governor; and
  • Will be elected in a retention election as they are today.

Legislation will be filed to extend the Judicial Nominating Commission and the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission until at least 2015, which allows appropriate time for the constitutional amendment to be considered with the goal of avoiding any additional confusion.

“It is great to stand here today with Lt. Gov. Ramsey and Speaker Harwell to announce our proposal together,” Haslam said. “I believe the current process has worked well during my time in office, and I’ve been pleased with both the quality of candidates and the process for choosing them. The judiciary is the third and equal branch of government, and we are here to make this recommendation because we believe it is important for our Constitution to clearly reflect the reality of how we select judges in Tennessee.”

“The importance of a highly functioning and independent judicial branch is crucial to the small, efficient government our unified Republican majority continues to bring to Tennessee,” Ramsey said. “Our current method of choosing judges is a very good system, but it is not constitutional. This effort will ensure that we finally have a constitutional method of choosing judges. I am proud to stand with the governor and the speaker in favor of a judicial selection process that is fair, effective and constitutional.”

“I am proud to join today with Governor Haslam and Lt. Gov. Ramsey to offer this solution on the issue of judicial elections,” Harwell said. “I am confident that what we are proposing today will maintain the integrity of the judicial system while respecting the state’s constitution. I want to thank my colleagues for their tireless work and dedication regarding the issue of judicial selection in Tennessee.”

Liberty and Justice News

Beavers Considers ‘Starting From Scratch’ on Court of Judiciary

In one of her strongest statements to date, Sen. Mae Beavers raised the specter Tuesday of doing away with the board that polices judges.

The Court of the Judiciary has been the subject of intense legislative attention this fall as Beavers has sought to revamp the make-up and operations of the body. Critics of the Court have said the system is one of judges protecting judges, and that reform is needed.

“I’m very much considering starting from scratch because there’s so much resistance from the Court of the Judiciary, the Supreme Court, to make even minor changes,” Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, said after a meeting of a House and Senate joint subcommittee.

Beavers has been a vocal critic of the COJ and as Senate Judiciary chairwoman led an examination of the court’s practices in September. She walked away saying the Court should be more transparent, require judges to disclose conflicts of interest, make disciplinary actions against judges public and add more laypeople to the panel.

Democrats generally agree that steps need to be taken by the judiciary to show the public and the Legislature they’re taking complaints about judges seriously, said the House minority party’s caucus chairman, Mike Turner, D-Old Hickory.

“Ninety-five percent of the judges out there are great public servants, but they’ve got a few bad apples that for some reason the judiciary seem to be protecting,” Turner told TNReport. “I think (if) they don’t do something the next couple months to demonstrate they want to get rid of real bad judges, then I think (the Court of the Judiciary is) gone.”

Presiding Judge Chris Craft, who heads up the Court of the Judiciary, says judges support renaming the committee, adjusting who appoints members to the court and other changes.

“We’re trying to make the Legislature happy and allay their concerns while at the same time making sure that the right people get appointed to the court,” said Craft. “We have 16 judges and attorneys and laypeople who really care about having a good judiciary, and we don’t want it to become political. We don’t want it to be some base on which you have other agendas.”

Legislators are also considering plans that would essentially eliminate the need for the Judicial Nominating Commission, which recommends judges for the governor to appoint.

Some lawmakers contend the state’s current process for selecting judges, dubbed the “Tennessee Plan,” violates the state Constitution by not requiring a vote of the people. Several lawmakers want voters to directly elect judges or switch to a plan that mirrors the federal selection process, in which the president nominates and the Senate confirms.

In a sign of displeasure, the subcommittee issued a “neutral” recommendation on whether the the Court of the Judiciary should be funded next year. The subcommittee decided not to weigh in on the Judicial Nominating Commission and a separate panel called the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission, forwarding those issues back to the full Government Operations Committee by default. The full committee will now decide.

The decisions send a clear message, said one lawmaker.

“That’s as close as being shot in the head by the Legislature as you can be shot in the head by the Legislature. So they’re not out of the hot seat yet,” said Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport.

Press Releases

Ramsey Likes New Solicitor General

Press Release from Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, April 8, 2011

(Nashville) – Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey today praised the selection of Bill Young of Chattanooga as Tennessee’s new solicitor general.

“I’ve known Bill for many years and he is the perfect choice for this position,” said Ramsey. “His many years of experience in both the public and private sector will make him a strong asset to the Office of the Attorney General.”

Ramsey named Young as one of his first picks to the newly created Judicial Nominating Commission, a commission Ramsey was instrumental in devising, in July 2009. Young was subsequently elected vice-chairman by his peers on the commission eventually taking on the role of chairman following the resignation of David Bautista in January 2010. Young was elected chairman in his own right shortly thereafter.

Currently the general counsel and senior vice president of risk management at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, Young worked in the Attorney General’s office for over eight years. He left that position in 1995 to serve as Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, a position he held for four years.

As solicitor general, Young will oversee appellate litigation in both state and federal courts, review written opinions and advise the attorney general. Young will step down from the judicial nominating commission when he assumes his duties as solicitor general in June. Ramsey expects to name Young’s replacement on the commission at that time.