The candidates for General Sessions Court Division II Judge spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland in a political forum Thursday.
Candidates Barrett Painter and Shari Tayloe along with current judge Sheridan Randolph were each given a chance to explain why they are best suited for the position. All three are running in the Republican primary.
- Tayloe graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and received her law degree from University of Tennessee Knoxville in 1993. She has been practicing law ever since.
“Most of my practice has been in criminal law. I have been an assistant DA here in Bradley County from 1994 to 2006,” Tayloe said.
In 2006, she entered private practice.
“Private practice is OK, but it is not where my heart is. My heart is in public service, so I went back to prosecuting in 2011,” the assistant district attorney said.
She currently prosecutes cases in Maryville, while commuting from Bradley County.
“As a prosecutor, I have prosecuted everything you can imagine, from chickens running at large up to death penalty first-degree murder cases,” Tayloe said. “And not only have I done that as a criminal prosecutor, but I’ve also done that in private practice (on the defense side).”
She has also served in campus court and as special judge for General Sessions Court in the past.
“That makes me the only person in this particular race that has served the citizens of Bradley County on all three sides of the criminal process,” Tayloe said.
She said it is important for the rights of individuals to be upheld in the courtroom.
- Painter is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
He received his law degree from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in 1992.
“I finished three years [of law school] in 2 1/2 years by doing both summers,” Painter said.
Upon receiving his degree, he began practicing law at his father’s law firm. Painter said his father has been a lawyer in Bradley County for a long time.
Now, Painter is with Chancey, Kanavos, Love and Painter.
He said he wants to run for judge because he wants to give back to the community.
“I feel a calling to be a judge and to try to help the people of Bradley County, both the citizens and those who come before me,” Painter said.
He said he would like to see a drug court program similar to the one in Circuit Court established in Sessions Court to address the area’s methamphetamine issues.
- Randolph has served as General Sessions Court Judge for eight years. Before running for the position, he had worked with the court for the “equivalent of three months.”
He dealt with 11,000 cases last year.
“My reputation is that I am fair and strict,” Randolph said.
Randolph said he has focused on efficiency and eliminating “downtime.” He said having a CPA certificate has helped him add to the efficiency of his courtroom by allowing him to tell people how much they will owe if found guilty.
“That is very different from anyone you will ever see in this kind of court,” Randolph said. “All the judges I have ever seen say, ‘Well, it’s a $150 fine plus costs.’”
And they don’t know how much those costs are, Randolph said.
When he first came to office, Randolph collected millions of dollars in unpaid court fees by going back through old records.
“That money … helped keep your tax rates low,” Randolph said.
He has also decreased the number of people driving without a license in Bradley County.
“I have held their feet to the fire,” Randolph said.
He said he has also kept illegal immigrants scheduled to be transported by the FBI from simply sitting in jail waiting.
The General Sessions Court district includes only Bradley County.
The Republican Primary is May 6.