Tennessee judiciary members Carol Solomon and Barbara Haynes stepping down from the bench
Justice Haynes has been a fixture on the Twentieth Circuit Court, 3rd Division since 1990. Haynes leaves behind a great legacy, particularly her contributions to alternative dispute resolution, sentencing reform and women's issues. Justice Haynes was one of the key players in the Criminal Sentencing Reform Act of 1989 which standardized many of the sentencing guidelines the state still uses. The process of bringing so many divergent opinions to consensus is a feat in and of itself. Haynes career was not without controversy as well, she has initially refused to recuse herself from cases that appeared before her involving former affiliations or family members, but eventually did so in both cases.
Justice Soloman, who has always been a controversial judge as well, is no longer accepting new domestic cases in an effort to wind down her time on the bench. Soloman has been the focus of scrutiny because of her abrasive and confrontation behavior on the bench which earned her complaints, recusal motions and an alleged bias in her decisions. Soloman was never formally reprimanded for her actions, but was instead privately sanctioned by the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary stemming from a 2007 complaint. This has urged critics to question the effectiveness of the CotJ and ask for more transparency in the organization.
Soloman, who handled half of a 5,000 case per year docket is now only accepting civil cases in preparation for retirement. A debate has been circling through the Nashville family court about how to best divide Solomon's remaining case load. After multiple meetings the cases have been divided between Philip E. Smith who has been the other half of the caseload for quite some time, Amanda McClendon and Hamilton V. Gayden. The hope is that by dividing the cases among fewer judges who may not necessarily have experience in family law cases will make for a smoother transition until a permanent solution can be found. One suggestion that has been raised is to convert Justice Haynes former seat into a family court seat for the appointment process. The court is continuing to look into solutions that will pose the least stress on the judiciary and provide an acceptable level of service to residents.