NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Sixteen applicants make up the list released Monday as the candidates for the vacant seat on the Tennessee Supreme Court.
The Judicial Selection Commission will hold a meeting April 13 to determine a panel of three to be passed on to Gov. Phil Bredesen, who will choose the Court's fifth justice.
The seat has been the subject of controversy since Bredesen refused a second panel because there was not a black candidate. The Supreme Court recently decided that Bredesen had not discriminated against two white applicants by refusing to consider them for the opening.
George Lewis and Houston Gordon argued that Bredesen's refusal to allow them to be considered on a second three-person panel of candidates after the first one was refused because the lone black candidate dropped out violated the Tennessee Human Rights Act.
When the third candidate - Davidson County Chancellor Richard Dinkins -- withdrew his name, Bredesen asked for a new list of candidates because he wanted one with a minority on it. Dinkins was the lone black person on the first panel.
The second panel that was submitted again featured Gordon and Lewis and added D'Army Bailey, who is black. However, Bredesen refused the list, claiming candidates who were already rejected (Lewis and Gordon) could not be resubmitted.
Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle agreed with Bredesen, and the Judicial Selection Committee planned a Jan. 24 meeting to pick the new third candidate, who would join Bailey and Judge William Koch (of the state's Court of Appeals).
That left out Gordon and Lewis, who decided to ask that the appointment be stayed until their discrimination claim could be worked out. Gordon is an attorney practicing in Covington, and Lewis, nicknamed "Buck," is the vice president of the Tennessee Bar Association.
The Court also decided that Gordon and Lewis may not apply for the job again.
Justice Gary Wade recused himself from hearing the case because, "My own nomination and eventual appointment as an associate justice is a part of the history of this litigation."
Wade filled one of the two spots last year that were created when justices Anderson and Adolpho Birch retired. Anderson took Wade's spot during the hearing.
Tennessee's Supreme Court has the unique power of appointing the state's attorney general rather than having voters decide. In November, the Court chose Robert Cooper for an eight-year term to replace Paul Summers. Cooper represented Bredesen in the case.
Bailey and Koch are candidates included on the new list, as are: Court of Appeals Judge Frank Clement, Jr.; Baxter attorney David Day; Criminal Court Judge Steve Dozier; Chief Administrative Officer John Fowlkes, Jr.; Germantown attorney Sean Hunt; Administrative Law Judge in the Secretary of State's office Andrei Ellen Lee; Circuit Court Judge C. Creed McGinley; Court of Criminal Appeals Judge J.C. McLin; Russell Perkins of the Attorney General's Office; Jackson attorney Nathan Pride; Claims Commissioner Stephanie Reevers; former Criminal Court Judge Lillie Ann Sells; Memphis attorney Steven Walker; and Criminal Court Judge W. Mark Ward.