Judge pleads his Case

Council gives First Nod of Approval! 




By: Pat Hunter


Lenoir City's Charter ArticleVIII. City Recorder. Section 7., states that the City-Recorder, "Shall serve as city court clerk. The Recorder/Treasurer shall be the Clerk of the City Court. ..." ARTICLE III, ELECTIONS, Section 4. Election procedure..."The City Recorder/Treasurer shall be elected to a four (4) year term at the next regular election following the expiration of the incumbent's term."


Lenoir City voters were supposed to elect a City-Recorder in the upcoming November 2008 Election. However, Lenoir City Council took action to vote on first reading, an Ordinance to Appoint a Clerk of the Municipal Court, which would take effect immediately after the second and final reading. Council would then designate a person to be appointed as Municipal Court Clerk.


Judge Terry Vann attended the April 28th Lenoir City meeting; he spoke in favor of the proposed Ordinance regarding the appointment of a clerk to the Municipal Court. Judge Vann referenced the 2004 Municipal Court Reform Act hailed as sweeping legislation with accountability and training for municipal courts.


But that same year, the Comptroller of the State of Tennessee also released a critical Report about the Tennessee’s Court System detailing the numerous deficiencies, problems and challenges facing the courts including duplication of services.


Judge Vann shared information with Council about the Municipal Reform Act. No matter what a city's ordinances or Charter may say, the Judge commented, they say you should do these things and designate a clerk to the court. Its not about creating a new job, just making an office of that position and its to ensure continuity in the operations of the Clerk regardless of the personnel in the City Council or other elected officials. Video clips of: Comment 1   Comment 2    Comment 3 


Mayor Brookshire weighed in with his interpretation. Brookshire's condensed comments - the ruling by the state allows Council to do this regardless of what existing language in the charter may say. Lenoir City can take this action. No matter who fills the position of Recorder Treasurer that this position would remain with the Municipal Court that's were you spoke about consistency. Once Council makes that designation that authority is with that person. Video Clip of: Mayor Brookshire comments.


Councilman Eddie Simpson spoke about personnel issues. Simpson asked, we won't be adding another employee, we would simply be appointing a current employee to do these duties. He also inquired about the status of the other deputies in the City Recorders office.


Councilman Buddy Hines spoke to Judge Vann who sat in the audience. Hines asked, are we going to take a recommendation tonight; not tonight the Judge replied. Lenoir City Council will wait until the Ordinance is passed on second reading before Judge Vann makes his recommendation for Council's consideration and approval. When all was said and done, the Ordinance was passed on first reading with all council members voting Aye.      


Lenoir City taxpayers already face additional expenditures, renovations for the proposed new clerk's office located in the back of the Council meeting room.   


Why did Council members decide to pass an Ordinance to appoint someone when T.C.A. 16-18-310(a) states that a person may also be elected to serve in that capacity?


The second reading to this Ordinance is expected at the next Lenoir City Council meeting.