TN group slams state bar association for trying to influence court election

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE — With the kind of contempt most people have for attorneys you’d think their opinions on, well — anything — wouldn’t count for much.

The Tennessee Bar Association, however, hopes conventional wisdom doesn’t hold up.

TBA officials announced late last week that nine of every 10 lawyers they polled support retaining three state Supreme Court justices in an Aug. 7 election.

By extension, they seem to suggest they’re smarter than everyone else, and you may as well fall in line with their point of view.

Grant Starrett

The president of one nonprofit told Tennessee Watchdog, though, that the poll is meaningless.

Tennesseans for Judicial Accountability President Grant Starrett said waiting for the results of the TBA poll didn’t exactly keep him breathless with suspense.

“The TBA is a propaganda machine on the part of the justices,” Starrett said. “The results of that poll were about as predictable as Pravda polling party members about the Politburo’s approval.”

Tennessee Watchdog left messages seeking comment from the TBA, but no one immediately returned our messages Tuesday.

In a TBA press release, outgoing President Cindy Wyrick said voters would do well to listen what attorneys have to say.

“Lawyers are uniquely qualified to provide an informed opinion as to whether a justice should be retained in office,” Wyrick said. “For that reason, it is important that they share this knowledge with voters who will be going to the polls in August.”

According to a TNJA press release, the nonprofit formed in 2013 to help conservative attorneys in Tennessee.

Lawyers who participated in the TBA poll don’t generally represent most Tennesseans, Starrett said.

Furthermore, lawyers can’t possibly claim objectivity on judicial matters, especially considering Supreme Court justices not only dictate the outcome of their cases, but also regulate their ability to practice law, he added.

“Like all push polls, the TBA poll was designed to get a desired result in its favor: i.e., the four possible options are highly recommend retention, recommend retention, do not recommend retention, and do not have an informed opinion at this time, leaving only one of four options against the judges,” Starrett said in a press release.

Nonpartisan

Starrett told Tennessee Watchdog justices and their supporters claim nonpartisanship, but they’re actually partisan Democrats.

“Something that has hardly been covered in the media is how they are hiring Democratic operatives,” Starrett said. “What has been reported on this basically came from Tennessee Watchdog. I wish reporters would ask people working to re-elect the judges if they’ve done any work for any Republican ever.”

Tennessee Bar Association

Are the three justices — Gary Wade, Sharon Lee and Connie Clark — and their supporters partisan Democrats despite their repeated statements that politics must not corrupt the judiciary?

As Tennessee Watchdog previously reported, the Mountain Press newspaper said in 2005 that Wade, the chief justice, is “a Democrat, a proud Democrat, in the reddest county in Tennessee.”

This week, Wade and the justices have scheduled a breakfast with various politically progressive interest groups. George Soros, meanwhile, has involved himself in promoting the three justices’ retention.

Furthermore, some of the primary people hired to help three Tennessee Supreme Court justices win retention appear to have blatantly partisan ties to the Democratic Party.

As previously reported, Tennessee attorneys have held swanky fundraisers for the three justices, because they likely want the state’s recently enacted tort reform laws overturned.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org. or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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