Governor still working on picking new judge

Becky Campbell • Mar 30, 2013 at 9:41 PM

The process to select a new Criminal Court judge for the 1st Judicial District is ongoing, but the three finalists still haven’t been interviewed by Gov. Bill Haslam.

The position, vacated by retiring Judge Lynn Brown, serves Washington, Carter, Unicoi and Johnson counties. Brown’s retirement became official Saturday.

Three local attorneys are finalists for the job. They are Steve Finney, Gene Scott and Stacy Street. They were selected in February out of a group of seven attorneys interviewed by the state Judicial Nominating Committee.

Brown announced his decision to leave the bench in December and the process to select his successor began soon after.

Initially, eight local attorneys — including a Washington County Sessions Court judge — applied for the job.

Those eight were Assistant District Attorney General Ken Baldwin, Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks, Steve Finney, Collins Landstreet, Judge Robert Lincoln, Gene Scott, Dan Smith and Stacy Street.

Baldwin dropped out of the process prior to the Judicial Nominating Committee interviews.

David Smith, spokesman for Haslam, said the governor’s office is working on the selection.

“We received the nominations from the Judicial Nominating Commission and our legal staff and the governor are going through the process of finding the best fit for that position.

Here’s a little about each of the three candidates:

- Finney, 51, of Johnson City; licensed in Tennessee since 1990; started in private practice, then served from 1991-2005 as an Assistant District Attorney General in Sessions and Criminal courts; 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.”

- 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.

- 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’s no hard and fast time limit, but obviously we want to find the best fit for the position in a timely manner,” Smith said.

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