General Sessions Judge (3 candidates)

MATTHEW ARMOUR
• Age: 36
• Current occupation: Attorney at law
• Education: Bachelor of Science, Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University, Juris Doctor, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, University of Memphis
• Family: Wife, Cindy, three sons
• Organizations: 2004-2009 president of the Fayette Cares Board of Directors, trustee for Warren Community Church, Middle School Sunday School teacher at Warren Community Church, president of Morris Chambers Athletic League/Fayette County Dixie Youth League, 2007-2013 Board of Director at Fayette Academy, 2009-present Hearing Panel Member for Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, 2014 Leadership Fayette – received Tom Karcher Leadership Award, member of Fayette County Bar Association.
• List three significant issues in this election.
1. Ensuring that all citizens of Fayette County receive fair and impartial hearings during all legal proceedings in the Fayette County General Sessions and Juvenile Courts.
Answer: As judge, I will give each party an opportunity to present all relevant testimony and arguments prior to ruling, and I will use a common sense approach to applying the law to the facts in order to reach a fair resolution of each matter presented.
2. Make myself available for law enforcement and clerks of the court to provide for efficiency in the judicial process in Fayette County.
Answer: I believe that the Fayette County General Sessions judge should be available to law enforcement for processing potential search warrants and seizures at a moments notice.
I will expand the weekly docket call to provide for court access five days per week and be accessible after hours for law enforcement. My home in Somerville is less than five minutes from the Justice Center and availability will be my priority.
3. Addressing the many issues facing our juveniles in Fayette County.
Answer: Delinquency, truancy, dependency and education issues are affecting a large percentage of our youth in Fayette County.
As judge, I will work through the Juvenile Court in concert with the Department of Children Services, local churches and organizations, schools, and law enforcement agencies to educate the parents, children and guardians regarding the importance of school attendance, positive role models, and safe home and school environments.
Protection of the youth of Fayette County will be a priority.
The biggest concern facing Fayette County at this time is preventing repeat offenders in both criminal and juvenile court.
The General Sessions Judge has the task of applying the law to the facts of each case and the discretion to determine the best and most appropriate way to address violations of the laws.
It is imperative that our General Sessions Judge use the resources that are available, including jail, probation, rehabilitation programs, local support groups and education to provide a means to reach the ultimate goal of all statues of our State – protect our citizens and rehabilitate offenders to productive citizens.
I sincerely believe that I am the best qualified candidate for the job of General Sessions Judge of Fayette County. I have maintained a general practice in Fayette County for more than ten years handling real estate, criminal, civil, domestic, probate, and juvenile matters on a weekly basis through our local courts and the surrounding areas.
These areas all fall within the jurisdiction of the General Sessions and Juvenile Courts of Fayette County, and a hands on working knowledge of these areas is essential.
Further, I have been a hearing panel member of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility since 2009. This requires making the tough decisions involving making determinations of whether or not attorneys in our district have violated ethical rules and whether they will continue to practice law. Finally, I have lived and worked in Fayette County and have developed extensive working relationships with the clerks of our courts, law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Children Services.
These relationships are essential to the efficient and effective processing of the hundreds of cases that this General Sessions Court faces each year. For these reasons, I ask for your vote as Fayette County General Sessions Judge.

JIM GALLAGHER
• Current occupation: Trial attorney, private practitioner since 1978. Have been a member of the Tennessee Bar Association, Memphis Bar Association, Fayette County Bar Association Domestic Violence Council 1995. Fayette County Municipal Judge 2005-present. Judge and Pro Tempore Judge Tennessee Statewide Judges Legislative Committee 2010-2012. Researching, writing and proposing legislation. Tennessee Statewide Judges Education Committee 2012-2014. Creating and scheduling curriculum for Judge’s Continuing Legal Education seminars. Special Appointed General Sessions Judge. Appointed in excess of 150 times by judges that need a replacement in Criminal, Civil and Juvenile Court during the last 30 years. Gallagher Farm Thoroughbred horse breeding and racing owner and laborer.
• Age: 62
• Education: Christian Brothers High School, University of Memphis, Bachelor of Arts, major Political Science, University of Memphis Law School, Juris Doctorate,
• Family: Wife, mother and sister and a house and farm full of rescue animals
• Organizations: Author and weekly newspaper columnist of “About the Law” since October 2012. In accordance with the Tennessee Supreme Court suggestion that attorneys assist in legal education and representation in the “Access to Justice Program.” Spirit of Oakland Person of the Year 2009. Oakland News Readers Choice Fayette County Man of the Year 2011. Readers Choice Fayette County Best Attorney 2014. Leadership Fayette graduate 2007. W. Cathey Dandridge Community Appreciation Reception, Lead Organizer and Master of Ceremonies 2014. Fayette County Board of Zoning Appeals 2005-2010. Fayette County Commission on the Aging Board of Directors 2012, Bylaws, Chair 2012 (currently revising bylaws 2014). Fayette Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors 2006-2008. Fayette County Forestry Association Board of Director 2014, seedling tree giveaway 2013 and 2014. Fayette County Higher Education Committee Committee member 2011. Oakland Chamber of Commerce Chairman 2008 and 2010, Board of Directors 2008-2009, 2010-2013, Executive Committee 2008-2013, Economic Development Committee, Chairman 2010, Committee 2005-2014, Bylaws, Chairman 2010 – 2013, Government Liaison 2008-2010. Hickory Withe Community Association Development Committee 2005-2010, Bylaws, Chairman 2006 & 2012-2014. Fayette Friends of the Library, chairman two terms, Bylaws, Chairman. Lecturer for Youth and Church groups, “Consequences of Your Actions” (30 years), Keynote Speaker annual United States Marine Corps 2013, Keynote Speaker annual Fayette Livestock Association 2013, “Take the Pledge” don’t text and drive. Exhibiter Fayette County Farm Fest, “The miracle of 21 days” life cycle of chickens (Fayette County school children fifth and sixth grade). Event judge for 4-H Youth Speaking Competition 2014, Miss Oakland Beauty Pageant 2011 and Oakland antique truck show 2009.
• List three significant issues in this election.
The Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 10 Canon 4, imposes narrowly tailored restrictions upon the campaign activities of all judges and judicial candidates and their ability to answer questions.
1) Fair and equal justice applied consistently for everyone.
2) Consequences for wrongdoing must be imposed in some degree to stop crime and repeat bad behavior.
3) Considerable experience is necessary to make the right judgment at the right time. The position of General Sessions/Juvenile Court Judge carries heavy responsibilities such as terminating parental rights to children; putting someone in jail up to a year; and committing someone to a mental facility. These daily decisions affect people’s lives immediately and permanently.
• Specifically, how do you plan to deal with each of these issues, if elected?
The Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 10 Canon 4, imposes narrowly tailored restrictions upon the campaign activities of all judges and judicial candidates and their ability to answer questions.
1) I will continue to administer court with an open mind, with fair and equal justice applied to everyone in a consistent manner utilizing 40 years of legal experience.
2) Consequences must be applied when someone breaks the law, whether it is a lecture, fine, probation, community service or jail.
My experience as judge for nine years and as a Special Appointed General Sessions Judge during the last 30 years has given me the ability to know the right time to be tough and the right time to be compassionate. My experience gives me the confidence and ability to make that correct decision.
3) General Sessions/Juvenile Court is a serious court that deals with serious situations multiple times a day. Issues such as juvenile, criminal, abuse of the elderly and of children, mental health and animal abuse are serious issues that must be handled with experience. I will use my 40 years of experience and proven sound judgment together with many years as a judge and trial attorney to make the right decision at the right time.
• What do you think is the biggest concern facing Fayette County at this time, and why?
The Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 10 Canon 4, imposes narrowly tailored restrictions upon the campaign activities of all judges and judicial candidates and their ability to answer questions.
Of course, I am answering this within the confines of General Sessions/Juvenile Court. I have a passion for working with our youth and developed a lecture 30 years ago, “The Consequences of your Actions.”
Our youth need help with direction and purpose in life and it will be a focus of mine as the Juvenile Court Judge.
• What specifically makes you best qualified for the position you are seeking?
The Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 10 Canon 4, imposes narrowly tailored restrictions upon the campaign activities of all judges and judicial candidates and their ability to answer questions.
I have been appointed by several judges to fill in for them as a Special Appointed Judge hundreds of times over the last 25 years.
It is obvious that my administration of the court and application of the law is fair and equal or judges would not continue to request me to substitute for them.
My experience, coupled with being a judge for nine years and a Trial attorney for 36 years handling over 30,000 cases in my law practice offers myself to the the Fayette voter as the most qualified candidate. There is no substitute for experience and sound judgment, and I have it.
Experience gives you the confidence to be tough when required and compassionate when needed. Finally, I have the passion to do the job for you, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

MIKE WHITAKER
Incumbent
• Current occupation:
General Sessions Judge
• Age: 69
• Education: BA with distinction, Rhodes College, JD Vanderbilt
• Family: Married to Sharon North in 1968; two children, Aubrey and Cole; one grandson, Whit Overstreet.
• Organizations, groups and activities: Member of Mason Presbyterian Church. Activities include following Whit, who catches for the Memphis 12-year-old Tigers, feeding hummingbirds and cardinals, garden and yard work, SEC football and U of M basketball.
• List three significant issues in this election. Judicial races don’t have “issues” per se, but if there is one, it is one’s skill in presiding over a multi-jurisdictional court.
The court has changed dramatically over the last three years. Mental illness dominates every court, particularly juveniles.
Women are committing crimes in numbers never dreamed of and, like everywhere else, legal drugs followed by heroin are wrecking lives.
We don’t have enough beds for female prisoners, and I’ve had to remove more children from mothers in the past one year than in the preceding seven years. All this began in east Tennessee and moved west like a tornado.
Fayette General Sessions combines five different courts. There’s not another like it in the state.
Juvenile court is more stressful than anything I’ve ever done. It took about three years to feel I understood how DCS and CPS work.
Within the last year, however, all children’s services in the state underwent a convulsion, and the rules changed.
I’ve worked hard, and I think I’m on top of it. I’d appreciate the opportunity to serve you again.