8 apply to fill judge vacancy

Becky Campbell • Jan 12, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Seven local attorneys and one judge met the Friday deadline to fill the 1st Judicial District Circuit Court seat being vacated by Judge Lynn Brown in March.

The position, Circuit Court Judge Part II, serves Washington, Carter, Unicoi and Johnson counties in criminal cases. Brown announced his retirement in mid-December.

The applicants, in alphabetical order, are Ken Baldwin, Dennis Brooks, Steve Finney, Collins Landstreet II, General Sessions Judge Robert Lincoln, Gene Scott, Dan Smith and Stacy Street.

• Kenneth C. Baldwin, 65; licensed in Tennessee since 1975; worked in private practice in criminal and civil courts in East Tennessee, including Juvenile, Sessions, Circuit, Chancery, Criminal and federal; since 1984 has worked as an assistant district attorney general in the 1st Judicial District, now holds position of senior attorney; currently assigned to Criminal Court in Washington County but has worked all courts in all four counties in the district.

In his application, Baldwin said he has “the legal experience and judicial temperament to be an excellent judge,” and that a good judge “will ensure that fair results occur.”

• Dennis Brooks, 42, of Telford; licensed in Tennessee since 1997; worked one year in private practice, then started as an Assistant District Attorney General; currently assigned to Carter County Criminal Court. Brooks had planned to challenge Brown in the 2014 election.

Brooks said he applied for the judgeship because “I believe in justice — justice for the wrongfully accused and innocent victims. I have repeatedly stood up for defendants that I believe were wrongfully accused.”

• Steve Finney, 51, of Johnson City; licensed in Tennessee since 1990; started in private practice, then served 1991 until 2005 as an Assistant District Attorney General in General Session and Criminal Court; currently in private practice as a partner at Slagle and Finney law firm.

Finney said he has always “desired to serve my community in a way that will serve the public good. I believe that I have the qualifications, legal experience, work ethic, temperament and drive to be a successful, fair and even-handed judge.”

• Collins Landstreet II, 62, of Elizabethton; licensed in Tennessee since 1988; worked as a securities analyst before starting his law career in 1989; currently sole practitioner as a defense attorney with an office in Johnson City. He also works one day a week as an Assistant Public Defender.

Landstreet said he is “ready for a new challenge. I think I would be a good judge. I am a fair-minded person and have a good relationship with virtually all members of the bar in my district.”

• General Sessions Judge Robert Lincoln, 51, of Jonesborough; licensed to practice in Tennessee since 1989; worked as a partner in Sherrod, Stanley, Lincoln and Goldstein law firm until his election to judge in 1998; currently serves as General Sessions judge, Part I in Washington County.

Lincoln said his current job as General Sessions judge “gives me the unique opportunity to bring to the Criminal Court bench the lessons learned from my years as judge,” and noted the citizens of Washington County “have entrusted me with the power to adjudicate over their lives from birth to death every matter from juvenile, criminal, civil and until recently, probate.”

Lincoln lives in Jonesborough with his wife and children.

• Gene Scott, 37, of Watauga; licensed to practice in Tennessee since 2001; self-employed as a sole practitioner since being licensed, and handles mostly criminal cases.

Scott said he is seeking the position “to improve respect for and observance of the law in the community. I am dedicated to improving the judicial system in which I work.”

Scott lives in Watauga with his wife and son.

• Dan Smith, 65, of Johnson City; licensed in Tennessee since 2006; currently sole practitioner as a defense attorney with an office in Jonesborough. Prior to his private practice, Smith spent his career in the Marine Corps until he resigned his commission and took a position as an assistant U.S. attorney; rejoined the Marines until his military retirement and again worked as an assistant U.S. attorney before starting his private practice in 2007

In his application, Smith said being judge “would be a continuation of my past public service and it would be directed to serving my own local community.”

• Stacy Street, 45, of Elizabethton; licensed in Tennessee since 1992; began as an associate attorney with Hampton & Hampton law firm and later became partner; in 2010 opened his current office in Elizabethton as a sole practitioner.

In his application, Street said his “personal and professional experiences in this court and district uniquely qualify me for the transition from advocate to judge.”

Street lives in Elizabethton with his wife and two children.

There will be a public hearing on the applicants Feb. 8 at a location to be determined later. During that hearing, the public can voice their approval or objections to the candidates. After the hearing, the judicial nominating committee will meet with each applicant before recommending three candidates to Gov. Bill Haslam.

The individual interviews are also open to the public.

To view each application, go www.tncourts.gov and click on the link for the vacancy.

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