A Judicial Nominating Committee chose three Blount County attorneys out of four applicants to be considered for the county’s Circuit Court judge. Blount County Assistant District Attorney General Tammy M. Harrington, private practice attorney Lynn C. Peterson and Assistant U.S. Attorney General Steve Cook are the final three candidates who will be sent to Gov. Bill Haslam.
The public hearing and interviews were Tuesday at the Blount County Judicial Center. Following the hearings, 15 members of the Judicial Nominating Commission voted to submit those three names to Haslam, who will select one for the bench. Blount County-based attorney Robert N. Goddard, 57, of the Goddard and Gamble law firm, had also applied for the judgeship.
The vacancy was created when Circuit Court Judge Dale Young, 72, retired in January. Haslam can choose from the three names submitted or send them back to the committee for additional names. There is no time restriction on making a decision on the appointment.
Cook, 55, is a federal prosecutor who lives in Maryville with his wife and four children. Sandra Dennis, who worked with Cook for 20 years, boasted of his love for victims, his good work ethic and his knowledge of the law.
“He understands fairness to all parties involved,” said Dennis, a training coordinator with the local Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force.
Cook said he looks forward to next step in the process. “The governor has a lot of information in front of him, and I hope the governor puts aside politics and picks the most qualified candidate,” he said.
Harrington, 41, is a state prosecutor who lives in Maryville with her husband and three children.
“She can relate to people from all walks of life,” said Janis Calloway. Harrington successfully prosecuted a murder trial in which Calloway’s son Michael was the victim.
Harrington said she appreciated the opportunity to participate in the process. “I feel privileged and honored with the field of candidates and their impeccable qualifications that I was chosen to be on of the finalists,” she said.
Peterson, 53, is a partner in the Knoxville-based firm of Lewis, King, Krieg and Waldrop, which consists of more than 60 lawyers and 100 staff members. She lives in Maryville with her two children, and her areas of practice include workers’ compensation, personal injury and malpractice.
Peterson’s law partner of 10 years, Deborah Stevens, spoke on her behalf and called her a woman with trial experience, legal knowledge and wisdom.
Peterson said now phase two begins. “Now each of us has to convince the governor we’re the best candidate for this county,” she said. “I’m extremely excited about this process, and I look forward to it.”
Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Natalie Neysa Alund contributed to this story