DA Pinkston turned down Judge Rebecca Stern's seat - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

DA Pinkston turned down Judge Rebecca Stern's seat

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District Attorney General Neal Pinkston. WRCBtv.com photo District Attorney General Neal Pinkston. WRCBtv.com photo
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - UPDATE: It'll be several more months before we know who will fill the Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge vacancy.
    
Governor Haslam was expected to choose between three candidates --but has requested a new panel of candidates for consideration.
    
And now the Governor's office will get a second panel of nominees before choosing a replacement.

The Governor's Council for Judicial Appointments met in April to interview seven potential candidates, among them was Chattanooga attorney Sam Robinson.

"They asked about your personal background, your professional background, what you would do to better the community, to better the court," Robinson said.

In the end, the council selected Boyd Patterson, Mike Little and Leslie Longshore to interview with Governor Haslam.

Channel 3 obtained part of an email Pinkston sent to his staff this week, explaining he declined the job multiple times, saying his heart and interest lies in being the District Attorney.

Now the Governor has asked the council to go back to the drawing board, to submit three more names for consideration.
    
Robinson is hoping for a second chance.

"It was initially disappointing but I thought, you know everything happens for a reason and i'll give it a shot if given another opportunity, and that's what I plan on doing," Robinson said.

Since the Governor's Council for Judicial Appointments was formed last year, they've had about five recruitment cases across the state.
    
This is the first time the Governor has requested a second panel of nominations.

Until a new replacement is found, two retired judges will handle the cases in Judge Stern's courtroom.
    
Robinson says the delay could have an impact on how many criminal cases are passed to a future court date.

"A lot of times you want to have the judge who is going to preside over a trial to hear and rule on the pretrial motions," Robinson said.

The DA's office says as of now, there's no backlog of criminal cases in division two. With the Governor's new request, it could be a few months before a new judge is appointed.

The Governor's move comes from an executive order allowing him to request a second and final panel of nominations.
    
The council will schedule a public meeting sometime after the July 6th application deadline to interview the second round of candidates.

The Governor has to choose from the three new nominees, or the names he was given in the first recommendation.


ORIGINAL STORY: As Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam asked for three additional potential candidates to replace now-retired Hamilton County Judge Rebecca Stern, District Attorney General Neal Pinkston is said to have declined several inquiries to fill the position.

In an email Pinkston shared with his staff Friday, he said:

“I would never address this issue but the media is now calling for me to make comments or confirm some tips they have received. I want you to hear from me first instead of some version of the events that may be released by some media source.

Late last night while attending the District Attorneys Conference, I was contacted by individuals and was asked if I wanted to fill Judge Stern's seat as Criminal Court Judge. I immediately declined and was contacted again a few times but declined each time. My heart and interest lies in being the District Attorney General and the leader of some of the finest people I know. I am beyond proud to be the District Attorney and surrounded by such talented individuals that I can't wait to see what all our office accomplishes. Just the other day marked my 12th year in the office and it seems like I just started and we have much to work to do."

READ MORE | TN Gov. Haslam asks for additional candidates to fill Stern's judgeship
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