Lawfuel.com – Law Jobs & Newswire – 29 September 2009 – Adams and Reese LLP Partners Lucian T. Pera and Brian S. Faughnan, of the firm’s Memphis office, represented Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Curtis Person in a Tennessee Court of Appeals case in which the court firmly turned back the Shelby County Commission’s effort to add a second judge to run Juvenile Court.
The Court of Appeals reversed a chancellor’s 2007 ruling that allowed the commission to create the second judgeship based on a 1967 legislative act. Pera and Faughnan argued that the action was unconstitutional under the Tennessee State Constitution, an argument endorsed by the three-member appellate panel. The panel included Judges Patricia Cottrell, Frank Clement Jr. and Richard Dinkins.
Cottrell wrote for a unanimous court: “The Commission’s argument presumes that the legislature actually created or established (a second judgeship) through the language of Section 20 … We have concluded, however, that the General Assembly did not create or establish a court because it did not provide for a judgeship. While the General Assembly may have begun the process of establishing a court, it did not complete it.”
In 2007, Shelby County Chancellor Kenny Armstrong ruled that Section 20 of the Private Act of 1967 created the Second Division of Juvenile Court and that it gave the commission authority to determine when to fill the judicial position.
In an interview with the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Pera likened adding a second judge at Juvenile Court to having two mayors or two sheriffs and said the commission’s plan would dilute Person’s judicial and administrative responsibilities and jeopardize his right to hold the office to which he was elected.
“The ruling is complete vindication of the position Judge Person has taken since day one of this dispute,” said Pera. “Put in its most simple terms, a court is not a court without a judge. In some sense, it’s not that complicated.”
Adams and Reese LLP is a multidisciplinary, regional law firm with offices in Baton Rouge, LA; Birmingham, AL; Houston, TX; Jackson, MS; Memphis, TN; Mobile, AL; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA and Washington, D.C. American Lawyer Magazine recently named Adams and Reese to its distinguished list of the nation’s top 200 firms – “The Am Law 200.” The National Law Journal also lists the firm on the “NLJ 250” of the nation’s largest law firms.