By Tennessee Reporter staff
NASHVILLE — Most defendants would love to have the power to handpick judges assigned to decide a lawsuit against them. Gov. Bill Haslam, it seems, finds himself in just that enviable position.
Haslam announced Friday that he had chosen the members of a special ad hoc panel. The panel will serve as a temporary state Supreme Court to rule on a lawsuit that names the governor as a defendant.
The move became necessary after all the the sitting members of the Tennessee Supreme Court recused themselves from hearing the case of John Jay Hooker, on behalf of himself and others, v. Governor Bill Haslam, et al. The lawsuit on appeal is a challenge to the constitutionality of Tennessee’s “merit selection” appointment and “retention election” system of picking appellate and Supreme Court judges.
Asked at a news conference this week if he’d struggled with the potential appearance of a conflict of interest, Haslam indicated that his administration had discussed the matter and decided he was required by law to appoint the panel.