Knowledgebase-Appointment of City Judge

Information Product

Title:Appointment of City Judge
Summary:MTAS was asked whether it would be proper for a City to appoint a new
City Judge who is not a resident of the County in which the City is located.
Original Author:Leydorf, Donna
Product Create Date:12/05/2000
Last Reviewed on::06/26/2017
Subject:Courts--Judges; Courts--Municipal
Type:Legal Opinion
Legal Opinion: Appointment of City Judge Public.doc

Reference Documents:

Text of Document: FROM: Donna Leydorf, Legal Consultant

DATE: December 15, 2000

RE: City Judge

You have asked me whether it would be proper for a City to appoint a new City Judge who is not a resident of the County that the City is in. You also mentioned that the candidate for the judicial position has a parent on the City’s council. I recommend against making the appointment for two reasons:

1. The City’s code specifically requires that the City Judge be a resident of County. See Section 3-101(2).

2. Canon 2 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court requires that a judge “shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge’s activities.” It further states:

A. A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.

B. A judge shall not allow family, social, political or other relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment. A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others; nor shall a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. A judge shall not testify voluntarily as a character witness.

While I am sure that the persons involved, both the council member and the candidate for City Judge, would not do anything improper, there would always be the “appearance of impropriety” which could be damaging to the integrity of both offices.

Please let me know if you have further questions about his issue.

Please remember that these legal opinions were written based on the facts of a given city at a certain time. The laws referenced in any opinion may have changed or may not be applicable to your city or circumstances.

Always consult with your city attorney or an MTAS consultant before taking any action based on information contained in this database.