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McGee campaigns for criminal judge post

Warning of a complete Democratic takeover of the three divisions within Knox County Criminal Court — and pointing to how Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen slighted a distinguished family of judges — Republican Sessions Court (Division III) Judge Bob McGee emphasized his experience as a critical factor in his candidacy for Criminal Court Judge, Division II.

McGee, a General Sessions Court Judge for 21 years who has practiced law 31 years, spoke recently to Concord-Farragut Republican Club during a monthly meeting in Gondolier restaurant.

McGee cited three reasons for running against incumbent Democratic Criminal Court Judge Ken Irvine, an Aug. 20, 2007, appointee by Gov. Bredesen, replacing the late Judge Ray B. Jenkins.

One involves Irvine’s appointment, explaining that Jenkins won what was supposed to be an eight-year term (2006-2014) before his death. “He was a devoted and loyal Republican all his life,” said McGee, a native Knox Countian and graduate of Bearden High School (1967), The University of Tennessee (1971) and UT Law School. “After his death the governor [Phil Bredesen] appointed a Democrat [Irvine] to the position.”

With Irvine having lost to Jenkins in the 2006 election, McGee said the Jenkins family “was not happy” about the Irvine selection. “I think the Republican Party needs to try and take this position back — this should be a Republican position.”

McGee said a second motivation “represents an advancement in my career, quite frankly. Criminal Court is a court of great repore, it’s a higher court that Sessions Court, so this is a step, this is an advancement in my career as a jurist.”

Thirdly, “I honestly believe I am far better qualified than the fellow who is running against me,” McGee said of Irvine. “Ken Irvine is a fine man, there’s nothing negatively about to be said about him personally at all. However, he’s a Democrat, and I have far more experience than he does at being a judge.

“In the judge business, experience is everything,” McGee added. “That’s why a judge’s term is eight years long … we want judges to be in there for a long time and have experience in what they do. In our constitution and in our state law, judges cannot be term-limited.”

As Sessions Court Judge for 21 years, McGee said he’s faced many “tough decisions. You have to put someone in jail for 11 months and 29 days, they’re likely to loose their job. They may loose their cars, their homes, they can even lose their families.

“It’s tough work, tough decisions to be made,” McGee added, “and I’ve been making those tough decisions for 21 years.

“When the election’s actually held I’ll be looking at 22 years — my opponent will be looking at one year.”

McGee labeled his father, the late Rex McGee, “as one of the foremost criminal practitioners in this part of the country, and I grew up hearing about criminal law so I focused on criminal law in law school. And when I got out I practiced in criminal law.”

The General Election is Aug. 7.


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