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Panel Member: Politics Affect Decisions On Judges

Panel Member: Politics Affect Decisions On Judges

CREATED Mar 12, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A leading conservative member of the commission that evaluates Tennessee's appellate judges said the panel was influenced by partisan politics in deciding whether a judge on the state's highest court was fit to serve.

A records request from The Associated Press included a message from Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission member Chris Clem to Republican leaders in the state Senate. In it, Clem argues that Supreme Court Justice Bill Koch's ties to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and his "Republican credentials" have allowed him to continue to serve.

In an interview, Clem said some commission members were influenced by political pressure to support Koch.

Koch is stepping down from the court to become dean of the Nashville School of Law. He said that decision has nothing to do with partisan maneuvering.

(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)