Movement grows to end panel that oversees TN judges - WSMV Channel 4

Movement grows to end panel that oversees TN judges

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Lawmakers are pushing for big changes in how the state judges its judges. One prominent state lawmaker says it is time to terminate the body that punishes judges.

State Sen. Mae Beavers says the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary is too secretive and loaded with conflicts of interest.

The court of the judiciary hears every complaint lodged against someone on the bench.

Beavers has been listening to complaints about judges for 10 years.

"We've heard cases across the state where judges refuse to recuse themselves," she said. "We have cases where judges have committed felonies, resigned and were never prosecuted. And that puts them in a class of their own."

But all that may soon end. Beavers is the chairman of the Senate Judicial Committee and she believes there are votes in place to dissolve the 16-member court of the judiciary.

One of the reasons is that 10 of those 16 people are judges themselves.

"So you have judges judging judges on wrongdoing," Beavers said.

Presiding Judge Chris Craft, of Memphis, says that is not a problem and that good judges detest bad judges.

Judge Craft says he believes the court of the judiciary is doing a good job and should be left alone.

But since so many of the judges' reprimands are private, it is hard to really know how many judges are getting in trouble and why.

Janice Johnson says she took up this cause of ending the court of the judiciary when her life was ruined by a Williamson County judge.

"The citizens of Tennessee have been abused. These judges have no oversight," she said.

As early as July 1, the state could have no body that punishes judges. And then state leaders could reform with new members and new rules.

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