Bill targets panel that polices judges

A bill that would reform how judges are disciplined won unanimous approval from the state Senate on Thursday, as lawmakers accepted a compromise meant to increase the legislature’s oversight of the judicial branch.

Senators voted 30-0 to replace the Court of the Judiciary, which reviews and rules on complaints against judges, with a new 16-member board appointed by judges, legislative leaders and the governor. The unanimous vote increases the likelihood that the House would sign off on the measure, though a final vote has not been scheduled on companion legislation making its way through that chamber.

The new Board of Judicial Conduct would be created after years of complaints that the Court of the Judiciary did not aggressively investigate claims of judicial misconduct and was too closely tied to the Tennessee Supreme Court, which appointed more than half of its members.

The measure, Senate Bill 2671, also sets up a procedure for investigating complaints against judges and requires the board to report regularly to the Legislature on how grievances are resolved.

“There’s going to be more transparency,” said state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, the bill’s sponsor. “I know some people aren’t going to be happy with it, but we’re going to have to see how it works.”


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