What is your background?
My foremost qualification is that I have practiced law for almost twenty-six years. I have represented individuals or served as a guardian for both adults and children in almost every type of case that occurs in General Sessions Court. I have experience in family law; civil, criminal, and juvenile cases; traffic, wildlife and boating-related charges; domestic violence matters; probate and estate administration; and conservatorships, etc. I have also represented many litigants in Circuit, Criminal and Chancery Court and have handled over twenty appeals. Two of my cases, Gatlin v City of Knoxville and Gooden v. Coors Technical Ceramic, decisions by the Tennessee Supreme Court, are leading cases in Tennessee law. Appellate experience is important because a judge needs to know how to structure an opinion so that it will withstand an appeal. Because I have actively practiced law, I am well-versed in the law applied in General Sessions Court. I am frequently in that court on several cases each week. I have also practiced in General Sessions Courts in several other counties, as well.
In 2004, I was selected by the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility to be a hearing panel member to address ethics charges against attorneys. I served two three-year terms. In the more serious cases, a panel of three acts as a "court" which decides the facts and conclusions of law and imposes, if applicable, the punishment. In these cases, witnesses testify and evidence is submitted. The punishment ranges from a private admonition up to disbarment. These cases are often appealed ultimately to the Tennessee Supreme Court. A panel member must be thoroughly acquainted with the ethics rules for attorneys and the consequences of their violation.
A panel member also reviews cases, for example, where the allegedly offending attorney and the Board agree as to the disposition of the case and approve or disapprove of the recommendations made by the Board's attorney. This is similar to plea agreements on criminal charges in Sessions Court.
I have also sat a number of times as substitute sessions judge beginning in the late 1980's for the Honorable Judges William Russell and John Gibson. In addition, I have served as a prosecutor for the City of Knoxville. I have also defended individuals charged with criminal acts ranging from traffic violations to First Degree Murder. I also have the experience of twice being the victim of drivers who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These experiences give me a well-rounded perspective from which to hear cases and decide them fairly and impartially.
My parents were Rev. Orville and Lucy Longworth who owned a farm in west Knox County where I grew up. I am single, have no children, but I am considered an "aunt" or "godmother" by several children and young adults, both related and unrelated.
What are your qualifications for this position?
I attended Farragut High School and the University of Tennessee where I earned a BS in 1975. I then taught English for Knox County for five years. I then returned to UT in 1981 where I completed a doctorate in jurisprudence in 1984. I worked to pay for my education. I was licensed to practice law in 1984.
I clerked for the U T's General Counsel's Office when I was in law school. I then worked for a Maryville firm first as a clerk and then as an attorney. I initially came to Loudon County where I took a position with William H. Russell who is the current General Sessions Judge. After working with with him for four years, I then worked for the City of Knoxville as an assistant City attorney for almost five years. Since Dec. 1994 I have managed my own general practice which is presently located next to the courthouse in Loudon where I live.
I was admitted to practice before the U. S. Supreme Court in 1991, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1987, and in the federal court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in 1984.
I am a member and past President of the Loudon County Bar Association and a former program chairperson for East Tenn. Lawyers Association for Women (ETLAW). In addition, I have served as a member of the teaching adjunct faculty for Pellissippi State.
I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Lenoir City/ Loudon County Boys and Girls Club and am a member of Central United Methodist Church in Lenoir City where I have the privilege of singing in its chancel choir. I have been active in church all of my life and at various times have served as a church clerk, a church organist, an interim pianist, a Sunday School school teacher for both young adults and adults and chaired various committees.
I am a member of the team which won the 2009 and 2010 Norton-Spurrier Spelling Bees which raises money to help the Literacy Council pay for college for qualifying individuals.
What do you believe is the most pressing problem facing the office you are seeking and how would you propose that problem be solved?
The most challenging problem facing the General Sessions Judge is how to manage quickly and efficiently the very large docket of cases. I hope to make better use of the second courtroom and better use of the court's time by conducting preliminary hearings in one courtroom while the prosecutors attempt to work out plea agreements or other agreed upon dispositions of criminal cases in the other courtroom. I also hope to implement video arraignments to speed up the process of setting bond and advising individuals of their charges and to reduce the need for guards to relocate prisoners. I would also like to involve community members on a voluntary basis in establishing a program to provide role models to some troubled juveniles who just simply do not have family members that are good role models. We are fortunate to have the CASA program and the Child Advocacy Center in Loudon County, but there is still a need for mentor/role models for some young people whose parents are addicts or incarcerated.