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As many of you know, Judge Crigler has decided to retire as Circuit Court Judge after having served in that capacity since he was appointed in 2005. Judge Crigler presided over criminal cases in Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall and Moore counties (the 17th Judicial District). Judge Crigler left the District Attorney’s office of the 17th Judicial District where he had served for many years in order to take the Circuit Court position. Those of us who have practiced before him hate to see him go, but we are also happy that he has retirement to look forward to.

I recently learned that many people in Bedford County had been expecting me to apply for this vacancy. In fact, several rumors were being spread that I was going to apply. Of course, over the last couple of years there have been more than a few people tell me that they had heard that I was going to run against Judge Rich for General Sessions Judge in Bedford County. I do not know how these stories get started. However, since my name seems to coincide with any judge vacancy, I think that makes me qualified to give my thoughts on the five applicants who have applied for this vacancy.

I have known and worked on cases with all of the applicants. I actually started my career working for and with John Norton, III. Here’s my perspective:

Forest A. Durard, Jr.: I have worked on several family law and civil matters with Forest on the other side of the case. Forest is always knowledgeable of his cases and more than able to present them in court. He has a good disposition about him and is not easily angered. He has experience in many areas of the law, including criminal law. The only negative thing I can say about Forest is that while he was volunteering for a pet adoption day at TSC a couple of years ago, he encouraged my wife to adopt a dog. I know, this is a kind and generous thing to do, right? How can this be a negative, you ask. Well, here’s how. That dog had separation anxiety. When we had to leave her at home, we would attempt to crate her. That dog was Houdini. No matter what, she found a way out. At least, she did until the day she destroyed thousands of dollars worth of blinds in my home! So there, Forest is evil!I think he secretly knew what was going to happen to me. Despite this obvious flaw, Forest would make an excellent Circuit Court Judge. His application can be found here.

Brooke Charles Grubb: Brooke is an assistant DA working primarily in Marshall County General Sessions Court. Brooke is a good man. He is quiet, yet assertive. He has many years experience in the area of criminal law as a prosecutor. I have worked with him on several cases in Marshall County and always found him to be competent and professional. He always took the time to listen to me about my cases. When it was time to disagree, he did so respectfully. I enjoyed working with him. He, too, would make an excellent Circuit Judge. His application can be found here.

Barbara G. Medley: Barbara is the applicant that I have worked with the least. In fact, I can only recall one case we have worked on and that is a recent active custody case. However, she is certainly competent and fair-minded. By reputation, Barbara is well-respected in the practice of law. She has all the tools one would need to be a successful Circuit Court Judge. The fact that she is the lone woman applicant coupled with her outstanding credentials will, in my opinion, make it hard not to select her. Her application can be found here.

John Harvey Norton, III: John is the attorney with the most diverse practice background in the group.  He was my mentor in law school, he hired me upon graduation from UT Law and he made me a partner in 2000. In more ways than he can possibly imagine, he has shaped me as the attorney I am today. I know his practice habits as well as anyone. The way he thinks about a case, the way he handles a case and the way he will present a case to the Court. After we parted ways in 2001, we had some fierce battles in Court. He can hold his own with anyone. His reputation in the surrounding communities speaks volumes, both good and bad. If you are arrested in this jurisdiction, you think of John Norton. You might not hire him, but you at least think of him. He has that name recognition that would serve an applicant well at re-election. Yes, John has some personal and professional baggage as noted in his application that the others do not have, nevertheless, he would be a great, if not interesting and colorful, Circuit Court Judge. His application can be found here.

Michael Randles: Mike has been in the DA’s office since I began practicing. I remember him from the Public Defender’s office and Richard Dugger’s office. However, my professional experience with him has been in the DA’s office. Mike and I have had some good battles in criminal jury trials over the years, and many more that did not end in a trial. He, too, is a fierce competitor when called upon. He is a hard worker and is knowledgeable of the law. It also seemed as if he went to church with every old lady in the community. Every trial I had with him we had to exclude several old women because they claimed to go to church with Mike and thought he was the cutest thing. It made picking a jury difficult. Mike has all the tools necessary to be a good Judge. His application can be found here.

It is my hope that this sheds a little light on these applicants from the perspective of a peer. If any of you reading this have stories of your own you would like to make known, please comment below. Good luck to all.