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Vote Smart in August 7 Judicial Races

July 3, 2014


The upcoming August 7, 2014 ballot  (☚ check it out) is the kind most voters dread: it’s longer than a Memphis summer; includes candidates you have never heard of for offices you don’t understand; and the outcome will have a profound effect on our quality of life, both locally and statewide.

The ballot begins with primary races for Tennessee Governor, U.S. Senator, state senators and representatives, and state executive committee men/women. Next are 24 judicial races: nine for Circuit Court,  three for Chancery Court, two for Probate Court, 10 for Criminal Court. County District Attorney and County Mayor follow, then County Commissioners, Property Assessor, and County Trustee.

By this time, you’ll be singing,

My back is aching and my knees are weak, I can’t seem to stand on my own two feet.

[email subscribers click here for Elvis]

wait there's more

You still have to make sound decisions in 14 races for General Sessions Court judges (both civil and criminal).

Then it’s Juvenile Court judge, Sheriff, and Clerks for  Circuit, Criminal, Juvenile and Probate Courts; County Court Clerk and Register of Deeds;  School Board Commissioner for your district; and, if you live in Collierville, Germantown, or Millington, your municipal judge (fortunately, the municipal judge races are all unopposed).

That does it for the local races, but not for statewide. Finally, you will be voting to oust or retain three Tennessee Supreme Court justices and 20 Court of Appeals judges – both civil and criminal, and not only in the Western District, but the Eastern and Middle Districts as well.

Feeling pretty confident?

judge with bag over face

We didn’t think so.

But vote you should, and not just “straight ticket” (judges aren’t listed by party affiliation, if they have one) or by whose yard signs you’ve seen the most, or (my mother’s favored voting method, God rest her non-political soul) who is the best looking.

The 66 judicial elections (53 races with challengers) make the August 7 ballot  unusually long and intimidating. You may not think that selecting judges has much of an impact on your life, but they do, either directly (for example, if you are cited for a building codes violation on your new master suite addition, have a messy divorce, adopt a child, or have an errant teenager) or indirectly (think crime and punishment).

Most local judges are elected every eight years in Tennessee. Under our Tennessee Plan system, voters vote “up or down” to retain or replace Supreme Court and Appeals justices every eight years. At any time, it is difficult for the average voter to cast a sound, informed vote when multiple judicial races are at stake. For most people, researching individual judicial candidates falls into the category of “rational ignorance” i.e., the perceived benefit is not worth the time investment.

Anyway, who among us really knows the difference between a District Court, Chancery Court, and General Sessions Court?

Anyone? Anyone?



Back in River City’s Guide to the 2014 Judicial Elections

To help you avoid voter fatigue and low-information voter syndrome, Back in River City is publishing a free, comprehensive guide to the judicial races appearing on the August 7, 2014 ballot.  The guide will include our own recommendations, based on extensive research on each candidate, including factual information as well as surveys and interviews with a bi-partisan panel of  respected local attorneys. There will also be links to online information about each candidate so that you may do your own research. 

The guide will be published here and on two Facebook pages: our Back in River City page, and at  Voting Smart: 2014 Shelby Co. Judicial Elections. We will release the guide in sections, starting with General Sessions Court candidates (civil and criminal). The entire guide will also be available on a separate page here at Back in River City before early voting begins on July 18th. Meanwhile, send us your comments and questions about the judicial races, and we will respond. If you are an attorney with significant, recent courtroom experience (but not a current candidate for judge) you may request to be on our attorney panel. Contact us at or or message us privately through one of the Facebook pages listed above.

Please forward this post to your friends and family. The more people who vote knowledgeably, the better the outcomes for everyone in Shelby County.


election 2014 180 pixels




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