Three women on list for federal judgeship

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

Federal magistrate judge Clifford Shirley is not seeking a third term when his term ends in February 2018. This triggers a search for a new magistrate, which ultimately is decided by the federal judges for the eastern district of Tennessee with Tom Varlan as the Chief Judge. It also includes active senior judges.

Under federal law, a magistrate judge merit selection panel has been established to review applicants and submit five names to the judges who will make a final decision. The search committee is chaired by highly respected and hard-working Knoxville attorney Mark Mamantov. It also includes two non-lawyers as required by law.

While the names of applicants and the deliberations of the panel are not public, three of the applicants I have learned are well-qualified women. They are Bridget Bailey, Heidi Barcus and Debbie Poplin, current clerk of the federal court. Poplin was the first woman to serve as Knoxville’s law director.

Bailey, who is African-American, now works for the Department of Justice. She has also served on the staff of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander. Much of her family lives in Knoxville. Interestingly enough, both Bailey and Barcus have worked at different times (no longer) at the Lewis Thomason law firm here in Knoxville formerly known as Lewis King and Krieg.

It is an eight-year term. The deadline for applications has passed. There are many more applicants than the three listed here.

■  Former state Rep. Robert Booker, the first African-American elected from Knox County to the Tennessee House of Representatives after Reconstruction, turns 82 on Friday, April 14. He is a regular columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel and an authority on African-American history in Knox County. Former deputy mayor for Madeline Rogero (and potential 2019 mayoral candidate) Eddie Mannis celebrates his 58th birthday the same day.

Booker also served as an administrative assistant to the late Mayor Kyle Testerman and on City Council, filling out the unexpired term of then Vice Mayor Mark Brown, who had resigned. Mannis is a well-known businessman and strong supporter of veterans.

■  James Corcoran, attorney, who lives with his wife, Anna, and their twin children, James IV and Elsa (age 2) on Eagle Crest Drive, is running for City Council from the seat now held by Brenda Palmer, who is term limited. His wife practices law with him.

He says Palmer “has done a really good job” as a council member. He wants to ensure a strong law enforcement presence as well as treatment for drug offenders. His law practice focuses on child welfare. He is 37, which would make him the youngest member of council if elected. Also running from this district is Jodi Mullins. Corcoran opposes partisan elections for city offices.

■  Alan Williams will be honored by the Front Page Follies on Saturday, June 17, for his commendable efforts in the news world for over 30 years.

■  Mayor Rogero continues to be outspoken on several national issues where she has taken the Democratic party view, which she avoided doing during her first term in office. This is her last term as mayor, which ends in December 2019.

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