The State's Attorney General has twice now issued rulings showing it is illegal for Sessions Court Judge Herbert Bacon to hold a board seat on the Morristown Utilities Commission, the latest issue on Sept 12, 2005. The first time was in April of this year, but an appeal was filed citing that Judge Bacon was merely a "part-time" judge. Great work if you can get it.
Here's a thought - why not include a board member who isn't already on any of a dozen other boards, isn't a corporate chief. Why not -gasp! - a customer representative?
Will the MUC even bother to change given these two opinions? Since no local media covers the story, I have my doubts.
The AG's opinion in part reads:
Article VI, Section 7, of the Tennessee Constitution prohibits the judge of an
inferior court from holding any other office of trust or profit. For the reasons discussed in Op. Tenn.
Att’y Gen. 05-064 (April 27, 2005), this Office has concluded that membership on the Morristown
Utilities Commission is an office of trust or profit within the meaning of this provision. The
Constitution contains no exception for an inferior court judge whose position is part-time. The fact
that a continuing part-time judge is not subject to compliance with Canon 4C(2) prohibiting service
on governmental committees does not change the constitutional prohibition.
This opinion responds to a request to clarify Op. Tenn. Att’y Gen. 05-064 (April 27,
2005). That opinion concludes that a general sessions judge is prohibited from serving as a member
of the Morristown Utilities Commission. The request asks if this rationale applies to a part-time
general sessions judge, particularly since part-time judges are expressly exempted from Supreme
Court Rule 10, Canon 4C(2).
Article VI, Section 7, of the Tennessee Constitution provides:
The Judges of the Supreme or Inferior Courts, shall,
at stated times, receive a compensation for their
services, to be ascertained by law, which shall not be
increased or diminished during the time for which
they are elected. They shall not be allowed any fees or
perquisites of office nor hold any other office of trust
or profit under this State or the United States.
The Opinon concludes:
Since, for the reasons discussed in Op. Tenn. Att’y Gen. 05-064, membership
on the Morristown Utilities Commission is an “office of trust or
profit” within the meaning of Article VI, Section 7, of the Tennessee Constitution, a part-time
general sessions judge may not serve as a Commission member during his or her term in judicial
The full opinion can be found on this page, labled Opinion OPO140.