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Candidates for judge must garner commission nomination

An application form has been approved, but candidates for the new General Sessions Judgeship will not even be considered without a nomination from a county commissioner.
While the position will be an elected role with an eight-year term beginning Aug. 31, 2014, the commission’s initial appointment during its January 2013 meeting will follow the same process for filling any public office.
According to County Attorney John Rambo, the legally required steps include a public hearing, a commissioner nomination, and a majority vote of the commissioners.
“To my recollection, this is the first time we have taken an application,” said Rambo, who has provided legal services to Washington County since 1999.
The Application of Intent to Seek Office of General Sessions Judge, Part III was approved during the August commission meeting on recommendation from the Legal Services Oversight Committee whose members hope to learn more about the candidates’ qualifications and integrity.
The deadline for submitting an application is Monday, Oct. 1. However, a candidate still can be nominated by a commissioner without having to fill out an application at all.
And regardless of whether or not they fill out an application, candidates will have to get a commissioner to nominate them in order to be considered for the position.
Committee members had a lot of ideas regarding an interview process and whether the sessions would be videotaped for posting on the county’s website, though none were discussed during the commission meeting.
Final decisions on the whole process could be considered moot since the county commission cannot require candidates to complete the application or participate in an interview.
“The only leverage is the vote in January,” Rambo said. “Ultimately 13 commissioners need to vote (to hire a candidate).”
Rambo said a candidate would be wise to seek a commissioner’s nomination prior to the meeting and would be taking a big risk of not even being considered for the job if the nomination is not obtained prior to that meeting.