Circuit Court, Division II

Judge David Duggan

Judge David Duggan

Judge Mike Meares

Judge Mike Meares

Judge David Duggan

Office seeking: Judge, Circuit Court, Division II

Family: Married to Kari, four children: Adam, John, Mary and Emily

Age: 51

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Masters degree, law degree all from the University of Tennessee.

Occupation: General Sessions Judge, Section IV

Hometown: Alcoa

How long in Blount County: Lived his entire life in Blount County except for short time in Oak Ridge.

What is your primary goal in seeking the judgeship?

“My primary goal or reason for deciding to run for Circuit Judge is because I’m sure I’ll make the best judge. That may sound trite, but I really believe that and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be running. I think I’ll make the best judge for several reasons. For one, my judicial philosophy. I believe in judicial restraint. I believe a judge should understand he’s not a legislator or policy-maker. His soul commitment should be to the law.

“Secondly, a judge should understand a judicial position doesn’t provide political balance. It’s not a political position. If someone wants to pursue political balance, they should run for political office, because it’s simply not a political position. There’s no room for politics in the courtroom. There never has been with me and never will be any room for that.

“Thirdly I think I have the best judicial temperament and demeanor. It’s important to be firm but also important to treat people with courtesy, dignity and respect, including court reporters and deputy clerks. The courtroom belongs to the people.

“Finally I think I’ll make the best judge because of my broad base in this community. When you run for judge there’s not much you can say. You can’t make promises or take positions. Very often it comes down to whom do you (the voter) know the best. I really believe being well and widely grounded in the community makes for the better judge. I would put my community involvement up against any candidate for any office.”

What are your qualifications?

“I have been a judge three and a half years and that includes handling a very diverse docket. I have criminal docket three days a week and at this point have disposed of well over 5,000 criminal cases. I have a civil docket every week. I have a domestic docket every week and a probate docket every week. That, along with my extensive private practice experience has uniquely qualified me to be a Circuit judge.”

What’s the difference in running for judge vs. another political office?

“For one thing, candidates for judge have restrictions other candidates do not have. For example, as I said, we’re not supposed to make pledges or promises other than to fairly apply the law.

“Secondly, we’re not supposed to take positions on issues. While that standard has been relaxed somewhat by the U.S. Supreme Court, in doing that the court made it clear that if a judge takes a position on an issue, the judge may have to recuse himself or herself if the issue comes before the court. In that same ruling the U.S. Supreme Court said virtually no issue in America is not likely to come before a court of general jurisdiction and the Circuit Court is such a court.

“In my opinion, a judicial race should be the least political of all races. It’s distressing to me very much that we’ve had such turmoil in our Circuit Court in recent weeks and we’ve had so much politics interjected into our court system.”

Judge Michael Meares

Office seeking: Judge, Circuit Court, Division II

Family: Married to Laura Webb, children: Caitlin, 20, Meagan, 18, Maggie, 17 and Sam, 2 and a half.

Age: 52

Education: Duke, degree in math and economics; Vanderbilt Law School.

Occupation: Circuit Court Judge Division II

Hometown: Maryville

How long in Blount County: Lived his entire life in Blount, except for time away for school.

What is your primary goal in seeking the judgeship?

“The primary goal I have as judge is I want to build the public’s confidence in the integrity of the judicial system. The second goal is I want to improve the efficiency with which this system works and the timeliness in resolving cases. In 24 years of practicing law, I’ve listened to the public complaint that the judicial system moves too slowly. Anyone who comes before me can be assured I will be fair and impartial and do the very best I can to make this system work more efficiently.”

What are your qualifications?

“I have a great education from Duke University and Vanderbilt Law School. I have a lot of life experience and that its important in understanding the critical moments in others people’s lives getting played out in court.

“I’ve been a single parent and self-employed. I’ve experienced great personal loss and in all that experience helps me to understand the people who come before me in court.

“As a lawyer in 24 years of practicing law I’ve tried just about every kind of case you can have, most importantly the murder, aggravated assault, drug, theft and other types of criminal cases which I am primarily hearing as judge. Finally I have 13 months experience doing the job itself. Of last 21 jury trials in Blount County, I conducted 20 of them. Three of those were murder cases.”

What’s the difference in running for this office and running for any other political office?

“I’m not sure it’s any different but it’s a lot more difficult because judges are sworn to be nonpartisan and also sworn to always promote confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. That makes it very difficult to operate in a partisan environment such as we have in Blount County.”

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