Special Supreme Court Denies Hooker’s Petition to Rehear

April 23, 2014

The Tennessee Special Supreme Court has issued an order denying John Jay Hooker’s Petition to Rehear the case in which he challenged the constitutionality of the state’s judicial selection process.

Mr. Hooker filed the petition with the Court March 27, seeking a rehearing on the issue of the constitutionality of the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) under the Tennessee Plan, on the issue of the constitutionality of statewide voting for the judges of the intermediate appellate courts, and on the issue of the competence of the Court of Appeals to have ruled in this case.

In its order, the Court explains Mr. Hooker has suffered no harm from its holding that the challenge to the constitutionality of the JNC under the Tennessee Plan is moot in this case. Because the Special Supreme Court vacated the decision of the Court of Appeals on that issue, the issue may still be litigated in another case in which different facts may be presented.

The Court also explains in the order that the constitutional limitation on voting by district is inapplicable to appellate court elections because those judges are not “assigned” to any district. The statutory residence requirement by grand division is only a qualification for the office of intermediate appellate judge; it does not apply to those voting for those offices. A judicial candidate can be required to live in a certain geographic area as a qualification for office, but still be elected statewide without regard to geographic area in which the qualified voters reside.

Because the Special Supreme Court did not rely on the holding or the reasoning of the Court of Appeals, but rather based its decision on its own, independent analysis of each of the issues presented, no rehearing is required on the issue of the competence of the Court of Appeals.

Read the order issued by the Special Supreme Court.