By Nathan Baker
The governor’s office is showing signs of progress toward appointing a new judge to finish the term of retired Criminal Court Judge Lynn Brown, but courts in the First District are already feeling the pressure of having only one full-time appointed judge.
On Tuesday, the first Carter County Criminal Court date after Brown’s departure, Judge Robert Cupp marvelled at the crowded docket caused by cases transferred over by Brown.
“We’ve got 90 items on the docket, so we can only take four minutes on each one,” he half-jokingly told the attorneys, defendants and prisoners crowded into the courtroom.
Last month, before Brown’s retirement, the highest number of items on Cupp’s docket was 67 on March 15. Last year, Brown heard 62 cases on April 3, his highest for the month.
Because of the especially high number of inmates brought into court from the Carter County Jail and surrounding institutions, more officers were needed Tuesday to ensure courtroom security, Carter County Sheriff’s Department Investigations Commander Lt. Mike Little said.
He and Road Patrol Commander Lt. Patrick Johnson, along with other officers, were pulled away from their duties for a couple of hours Tuesday to provide additional support for the three regular bailiffs who guard the courtroom on average days.
Alexia Poe, a spokesperson for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, said the First Judicial District should soon have a new judge, likely selected from the three local attorneys submitted for consideration by the Judicial Nominating Committee on Feb. 8.