Knox County court race looms between Judd Davis and Sarah Keith

It’s still early days, but it’s likely that the only competitive court race between political parties in Republican-rich Knox County in 2022 will be the Sessions Court Division II judge, to whom a Republican was recently appointed by a county commission.

The post was held for 35 years by the Republican Geoff emery until he takes early retirement in December and a county commission is appointed Judd Davis, attorney with the district attorney general’s office, to succeed Emery. Democrat Sarah keith, another prosecutor from the district attorney general’s office, also requested the appointment. The sessional courts deal with misdemeanor and felony cases.

Due to a policy of the attorney general Allen charm, a Republican, whom his staff cannot run for election against a sitting judge, Keith resigned effective Jan.1 to run for the post in the May 3 Democratic primary. Judge Davis will seek the Republican nomination. The general election for office holders in Knox County is August 4.

“Democrats are unlikely to run (for other judicial office) unless there is another open seat,” Matt Shears, said the Chairman of the Knox County Democratic Party. He said that in talking to lawyers, they say lawyers don’t like running for office unless an incumbent isn’t seeking re-election or the seat is otherwise vacant.

Elected Democrats and other leaders, who are strong inside the city of Knoxville, are firmly behind Keith for the Sessions Court bench, as are some Republicans. Keith spent 16 years in the Attorney General’s office, primarily as an attorney, although she was a paralegal while studying at the University of Tennessee Law School. She also worked in the 10th judicial district.

A native of Scott County, Keith is a friend of Lori Phillips Jones, a Republican who was appointed district attorney general in the 8th Judicial Circuit, now practices law in Oneida and is part of a welcoming committee for a fundraiser for Keith. The fundraiser will take place Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at the offices of Sobieski, Messer & Elledge on Gay Street.

The Democrats on the host committee are Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon; former Knoxville mayors Madeline Rogero and Dan Brown; Seema Singh and Lauren Rider, representatives of Knoxville City Council; State Representatives Gloria Johnson and Sam McKenzie; Knoxville County Commissioners Courtney Durrett and Dasha Lundy, and the Reverend Harold Middlebrook, among others. John Gill, a Republican who served as a United States district attorney and then worked as a special advisor for the Knox County District Attorney’s Office, is also on the welcome committee.

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Judicial candidates should be careful about what they say on issues or policies. Keith said she was showing up because she believed she would be good and respect everyone involved in the cases, listing attorneys, witnesses, victims and witness officers. She said she did not intend to take cases “under advisement for any significant length of time.” She repeated this position when asked if the cases were unduly under advisement.

Davis, who said Thursday he had only had “a few days” with a case, said he intended to work hard and make objective decisions. He said he had not seen cases under advisement for a long time in his experience as a prosecutor.

Davis said he has held several fundraisers since Emily Taylor was appointed treasurer on June 29. He has a long list of supporters on his website,, which includes former and current Knox County officials and a number of lawyers, including Democrats – like Tim Roberto, from whom brother Andrew comes. to be elected Deputy Mayor of Knoxville.

Georgiana vines

In a related development, neither Davis nor any candidate for office running as a Republican will have to file a fee with the Tennessee Republican Committee since its executive committee voted in December to waive the fee for running for office candidates. magistracy.

This was after potential candidates and a judicial ethics committee headed by the State Criminal Appeals Court, J. Ross Dyer, said judges and judicial candidates cannot pay “this. which amounts to an assessment “to a political organization to offset the costs associated with its approval, on the basis of an ethical rule of the State Supreme Court.

Political blogger Brian Hornback, a 6th district member of the GOP executive committee, said that by removing the $ 500 fee approved in August, the committee also added other positions, including that of district attorney general and public defender, which apply in County Knox.

The Tennessee Republican Party statutes on its website state that those seeking elected office as a Republican candidate will be required to submit the following fees by the applicable filing deadline for the position they seek: Governor and United States Senate , $ 5,000; US Congress, $ 2,500; state senate, $ 1,000; state house, $ 500; state executive committee and elected offices throughout the county, $ 100, and county commission and police officer, $ 25.

Shears said the state’s Democratic Party does not charge a fee for Democratic nomination contestants.

AMERICAN LAWYER APPOINTED: Francis M. “Trey” Hamilton III was appointed Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee by Attorney General Merrick Garland, continuing a post he had held as Acting United States Attorney since March 1. In his acting capacity, he was sworn in as Chief District Judge of the United States, Travis R. McDonough, in Chattanooga.

A press release issued on Wednesday said that Hamilton’s appointment by Garland was effective December 26 and that he was to serve 120 days or until a presidential nomination was made.

The former US attorney was Republican Doug Overbey, appointed by President Donald Trump. He left on February 28 at the request of President Joe Biden’s administration.

Randy Nichols, a Democrat who has long served as Knox County Attorney General, expressed interest in the job in early 2021, but the political problem is that he likely won’t be nominated by Biden because it didn’t happen. still produced.

OPPORTUNITIES AND POLITICAL PURPOSES: Knoxville Lawyer Jim corcoran, a former political candidate and member of the Tennessee Republican Executive Committee, now works in the legal division of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services in Maryville. He said he had resigned from the Republican Executive Committee post.

Georgiana Vines is a retired Associate Editor of News Sentinel. She can be reached at

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