Long-time attorney Lisa Nidiffer Rice is officially in the running for a 1st Judicial District Criminal Court judicial seat that will be up for grabs with the reported retirement of a sitting judge.
Rice, 52, who once served as an assistant district attorney general, will run in the Republican primary, seeking the Part I judgeship currently held by Robert Cupp. He is rumored to be retiring after his term ends in August.
The position covers all four counties — Washington, Carter, Unicoi and Johnson — in the 1st District, as does the Part II judgeship held by Judge Stacy Street. Currently, Street has no challengers.
“I’ve been (in private) practice since 1998, and I’ve been all courts in all four counties in the district,” Rice said. “I’ve prosecuted and defended cases in all four counties.”
Prior to opening her private practice in Elizabethton, Rice served as a prosecutor in the district attorney general’s office.
Being on each side of the courtroom has given Rice a different perspective, she said, and each skill set will benefit her if she’s elected.
“It’s just a whole different skill set to defend and it’s a different skill set to prosecute,” she said, adding that she has both which will give a “breadth and depth” to the position.
“I care about the courts. I care about how they’re run, how they’re perceived, I care about the justice system,” she said. “I have worked closely with law enforcement, prosecuted serious criminal cases and defended cases. It gives me a unique perspective on the courts,” she said.
At this point, Rice is the only woman in the Criminal Court race and if elected, would be one of three female judges in Upper East Tennessee. Circuit Court Jean Stanley serves in the 1st District and Juvenile Court Judge Sharon Green serves in Johnson City.
Rice plans to make a three-county swing for her campaign announcement to meet and greet citizens in those jurisdictions. They are scheduled for Jan. 23 from 5-7 p.m. at the Medical Care Office Building, 1500 W. Elk Ave., Elizabethton; Jan. 24 at noon at the Choo Choo Cafe, 111 S. Main St., Erwin, and also on Jan. 24 from 5-7 p.m. at the McKinney Center, 103 Franklin Ave., Jonesborough. Refreshments and music will be provided at each event.
Rice, like many candidates in the 2014 election, has taken to social media and the Internet to get her name and platform out to the public.
Rice’s online presence can be found at www.votelisarice.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/VoteLisaRice.
Rice is a native of Carter County and lives in Elizabethton with her son, Joshua.