Email Gov. Lee why our courts should stay focused on JUSTICE not POLITICS
Use this form to edit/send your own message to Gov. Lee and Your Representatives
GUIDANCE FOR YOUR EMAIL TO GOV. LEE:
- make it personal. share why it's important to you that our courts stay focused on JUSTICE not POLITICS.
- Ask Gov. Lee to reject this power-grab and let our courts focus on justice, not politics.
The TN General Assembly passed an amendment to
HB1130/SB868 creating an entirely new, expensive and unnecessary legal process for constitutional challenges to state laws.
Attorney Lee Davis, spokesperson for the coalition of the more than 250 legal professionals and business leaders opposing the power-grab over Tennessee's judicial branch, released the following statement:
"Our courts should focus on justice not politics. This last minute, behind-closed-doors attack on our courts creates a costly and confusing solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, duplicates a process we already have, politicizes the court and betrays the separation of powers.
An independent judiciary is essential to a democracy that works for all of us. Gov. Lee: we call on you to commit your veto of this unnecessary, expensive and unworkable legislation and allow people who know something about law and judges to weigh in before making such a drastic change to our democracy."
This legislation is a betrayal of the separation of powers and upends centuries of stability in trying cases and judicial independence in our state.
MORE BACKGROUND INFORMATION FROM ATTORNEY LEE DAVIS
The Tennessee legislature arrived at an unworkable solution to a problem of their own creation. All constitutional challenges will begin in any county of the state, which at first glance seems reasonable. But the devil is in the details.
The new law requires that locally elected judges be immediately supervised and outnumbered by two other judges from outside the jurisdiction, one each from the other grand divisions of the state. These two additional and unnecessary judges will be selected by the Tennessee Supreme Court. And, the now three judge case will not be heard at the local courthouse, but rather in the Supreme Court buildings in Jackson, Nashville or Knoxville. Justice will be thwarted by this awkward process. Three judges are less efficient than one and delays will be inevitable. Expense considerable. There will be problems with scheduling for three busy elected judges from across the state. How will that work?
Once the three judges actually do meet and the case begins, multiple judges will have to consider, agree if they can, and rule on every single matter involved in a case. This will make a mess of the trial courts. Imagine a straight forward trial. Motions before the court, rulings on evidence, objections by lawyers, all will be decided by three independent judges at the same time. When the judges can’t agree the majority rules. Litigants, Tennessee citizens for the most part, will be confused in these situations. There are reasons our trial courts have single judges and only our appeals courts have multiple judges. It’s so cases can be efficiently and timely decided upon and costs to our citizens can be limited.
When a case involves a jury, the new process will be impossible. In cases that have constitutional questions mixed with other claims, a local judge will have to bifurcate the case. Sending the constitutional question part to the three judge panel and retaining the other part. This will be expensive and time consuming to the litigants, Tennessee citizens, and the court.
This Dr. Frankenstein legal system birthed by the legislature late last night is expensive, inefficient, unnecessary and an affront to the people. Citizens elect their local trial judges and expect fairness and efficiency at the trial court. Before today, there never has been a trial court in Tennessee that required three sitting judges to conduct business, but there is now. Why? Governor Lee and the super majority of the legislature seek to protect themselves against cases that challenge the governor’s unconstitutional executive orders, administrative rules and state statutes. For example, expanded absentee voting during the Covid epidemic.
This misguided law passed by our legislature is unnecessary, expensive and unworkable. Governor Lee must veto it before more damage is done to our independent judiciary by partisan legislation.