Tennessee Supreme Court Enhances Language Access Services
The Tennessee Supreme Court has modified its rules to provide Limited English Proficient (LEP) Tennesseans with more meaningful access to court hearings. The new rules go into effect on July 1, when an additional $2 million in funding will be available to the courts. The additional funding provided an opportunity to modify how language access services are delivered.
The new funding and the new rules will help judges better communicate with parties in civil and criminal cases and will enable LEP persons to more fully participate in court proceedings and understand what is expected of them. Before the new funding, interpreter costs were paid for by the state in cases where a person was entitled to an attorney and could not afford to pay for an attorney. These cases included criminal, child abuse and neglect cases and termination of parental rights cases.
Supreme Court Adopts New Ethics Rules for Judges
The Tennessee Supreme Court has adopted a comprehensive revision to the Code of Judicial Conduct, which sets forth the ethics rules for Tennessee judges.
Along with the changes to the Code of Judicial Conduct, the Court also adopted a rule setting out a new procedure for pursuing the recusal of a judge, and a new process for seeking an expedited appeal if a motion for recusal is denied.
Under the new recusal procedure, judges are required to provide, in writing, grounds for denying any motion for recusal. And, in cases where the recusal is granted, the rule outlines the process for designating a new judge in the case.
In the rule, the Court also established the process for seeking an expedited appeal should a motion for recusal be denied. Should a judge deny a motion for recusal, an accelerated appeal may be filed with the appropriate appellate court within 15 days of the judge’s ruling. The appellate court will then make a decision on an expedited basis.
The revised Code of Judicial Conduct continues to allow elected judges and judicial candidates to make contributions to political organizations or to other candidates for public office and to attend or purchase tickets to dinners and other events sponsored by a political organization or a candidate for public office. However, judges and judicial candidates are prohibited from endorsing or opposing other candidates for public office.
Tennessee Judgment Interest Rates
Beginning July 1, any judgment entered will have the interest set at two percent below the formula rate published by the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions as set in Public Chapter 1043. The rate does not fluctuate and remains in effect when judgment is entered.
Current Rate – 5.25%
Board of Judicial Conduct
The Board of Judicial Conduct, formerly Court of the Judiciary, was created by the legislature to investigate and, when warranted, act on complaints against judges. Members are appointed by multiple appointing authorities, including the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House and various judicial conferences.