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NCJ Number: 49024 Find in a Library
Title: ANATOMY OF A 'COURT REFORM'
Journal: JUDICATURE  Volume:62  Issue:1  Dated:(JUNE/JULY 1978)  Pages:37-43
Author(s): L F SWEET
Corporate Author: American Judicature Soc
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 7
Sponsoring Agency: American Judicature Soc
Chicago, IL 60601-7401
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE CONCEPTION AND EVENTUAL DEFEAT OF A LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL DESIGNED TO REFORM THE TENNESSEE COURT SYSTEM ARE EXAMINED.
Abstract: COURT REFORM WAS AMONG THE ISSUES CONSIDERED IN A 1977 LIMITED STATE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION. FROM THE TIME VOTERS APPROVED THE CONVENTION IN 1976 UNTIL IT WAS HELD ONE YEAR LATER, THERE WAS LITTLE ORGANIZED GROUP ACTIVITY TO SUPPORT REFORM. THE STATE SUPREME COURT WAS RELUCTANT TO JOIN REFORM EFFORTS AND THE FEW DEDICATED REFORM GROUPS WERE UNABLE TO AROUSE ANY STATEWIDE INTEREST. THE TENNESSEE BAR ASSOCIATION (TBA), TAKING AN ACTIVE LEAD, FORMULATED A MODEL JUDICIAL ARTICLE PROPOSAL CALLING FOR A UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM, NONLEGISLATIVELY RESTRICTED SUPREME COURT RULEMAKING AUTHORITY, A COURT OF DISCIPLINE AND REMOVAL, A MERIT SELECTION SYSTEM, A STATEWIDE PUBLIC DEFENDER SYSTEM, AND QUALIFICATION STANDARDS FOR JUDGES. IMMEDIATE AND STRONG OPPOSITION TO THE TBA PROPOSAL CAME FROM THE TENNESSEE TRIAL LAWYERS' ASSOCIATION (TTLA), WHICH HELD THAT THE COURT SYSTEM DID NOT REQUIRE REFORM. THE TTLA FORMULATED ITS OWN PROPOSAL WHICH DIFFERED LITTLE FROM THE OPERATING SYSTEM AND REQUIRED LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL OF SUPREME COURT RULEMAKING. THE ONLY INNOVATION IN THE TTLA PROPOSAL WAS ESTABLISHMENT OF A DISCIPLINARY COURT. TWO WEEKS LATER YET ANOTHER PROPOSAL, REPRESENTING A COMPROMISE, WAS PUT FORTH BY THE CONVENTION PRESIDENT. THE FINAL PROPOSAL, FORMULATED BY THE CONVENTION DELEGATES, CALLED FOR A UNIFORM COURT SYSTEM AS PROVIDED BY LAW, SUPREME COURT RULEMAKING SUBJECT TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVAL, AN ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE UNDER THE CHIEF JUSTICE, A COURT OF DISCIPLINE AND REMOVAL, MERIT SELECTION OF JUDGES, QUALIFICATION STANDARDS FOR JUDGES AND ELECTION OF CIRCUIT COURT CLERKS. OPPONENTS -INCLUDING THE TBA, THE TTLA, THE TENNESSEE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE, THE NEWSPAPERS, AND OTHERS OUTSIDE THE STATE -- CALLED ON VOTERS TO VETO THE PROPOSAL. ANALYSTS HELD THAT BY SUBJECTING SUPREME COURT AUTHORITY TO LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL, THE COURT WOULD BE DEPRIVED OF A MAJOR TOOL FOR ACHIEVING A MODERN, RESPONSIVE, AND EFFECTIVE COURT SYSTEM. THE PROPOSAL WAS DEFEATED AT THE POLLS, AND THE DEFEAT WAS VIEWED AS A VICTORY OF SORTS BY REFORMERS. AFTER THE DEFEAT OF THE CONVENTION PROPOSAL, LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS FOR JUDICIAL REFORM WERE AGAIN FORMULATED FOR PRESENTATION TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY. REFERENCES ARE FOOTNOTED. CHARTS ARE PROVIDED. (JAP)
Index Term(s): Court structure; Court system; Political influences; Reform; State courts; Tennessee
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=49024

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