The commissions that nominate, evaluate and discipline Tennessee's judges were all scrutinized at a legislative hearing this week that set the stage for an expected fight next year over the future of the state's judiciary, reports the Tennessean. The Government Operations Joint Subcommittee on Judiciary and Government met Tuesday to discuss whether to retain the Court of the Judiciary, the Judicial Nominating Commission and the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission or let them expire. Members made it clear that a broad restructuring will be on the table when the full General Assembly reconvenes in January.
The Court of the Judiciary, which investigates ethical complaints against judges and determines discipline, received most of the committee's attention. Lawmakers from both parties warned Court of the Judiciary officials that if they don't change their processes, the General Assembly will do it for them. The hearing featured testimony from several people who complained of mistreatment by Tennessee judges. “Judges, you better get your house in order because we're going to do it for you if you can't,” Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, warned after listening to testimony from disgruntled litigants.