John Jay Hooker et al. v. Governor Bill Haslam et al.

John Jay Hooker et al. v. Governor Bill Haslam et al.
M2012-01299-SC-R11-CV

We granted permission to appeal to determine whether certain provisions of the Tennessee Plan, Tenn. Code Ann. ยงยง 17-4-101 through 17-4-109 (2009), which governs the way in which Tennessee appellate judges are initially selected and thereafter stand for reelection, violate the Tennessee Constitution. We hold that the issue of the constitutional validity of the Judicial Nominating Commission/gubernatorial appointment process under the Tennessee Plan is moot, and we decline to rule on this issue. We further hold that the retention election portion of the Tennessee Plan satisfies the constitutional requirement that the judges of the appellate courts be elected by the qualified voters of the State and does not violate the Tennessee Constitution. We likewise hold that the election of judges to the Tennessee Court of Appeals and the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee on a statewide basis does not violate the Tennessee Constitution. Accordingly, the portion of the judgment of the Court of Appeals with respect to the issue of the constitutional validity of the Judicial Nominating Commission/gubernatorial appointment process under the Tennessee Plan is vacated and that claim is dismissed. We affirm the portions of the judgment of the Court of Appeals with respect to the constitutional validity of the retention election portion of the Tennessee Plan and the constitutional validity of the election of Tennessee intermediate appellate court judges on a statewide basis.

Authoring Judge: 
Special Chief Justice Andree S. Blumstein
Originating Judge: 
Judge Hamilton V. Gayden
Date Filed: 
Monday, March 17, 2014