Sharon lee

Here’s the timetable for filling the upcoming SCOTENN vacancy

The Tennessee Supreme Court building is seen in Nashville on Dec.8, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

With state Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee announcing her plans to retire at the end of August, officials have released a timetable for selecting her successor.

Applicants must be licensed attorneys of at least 35 years of age who live in the eastern grand division of the state. The Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments will accept applications through Dec. 12. The panel plans to interview candidates on Jan. 4 at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

The council usually narrows the list down to three finalists at the end of its public hearings. The slate will will then undergo background checks and vetting by the governor’s office before Bill Lee either makes his choice or asks for another list. The governor’s nominee must be confirmed by the General Assembly before being sworn into the state’s court of last resort.

Justice Sharon Lee to retire from Tennessee Supreme Court

The Tennessee Supreme Court building is seen in Nashville on Dec.8, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Sharon Lee, the last remaining Democrat on the state Supreme Court, plans to retire from the bench next year, The Tennessee Journal has learned.

Lee was appointed to the state’s highest court by then-Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2008. He had previously named the Monroe County native to the state Court of Appeals in 2004.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee in January named Sarah Campbell, a former associate solicitor general and special assistant state attorney general, to the Supreme Court. The remaining three justices, Jeff Bivins, Holly Kirby, and Roger Page, were appointed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

The timing of Sharon Lee’s retirement will allow her to remain a member of the court through August 2023 while the application, gubernatorial nomination, and legislative confirmation process take place.

UPDATE: The Administrative Office of the Courts has made it official.

““Serving in the Tennessee Judiciary for the past 19 years has been the greatest honor of my professional life,” Lee said in a statement. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Tennesseans and have done my best to fulfill my judicial oath by upholding the state and federal Constitutions and administering justice faithfully and impartially.”

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