State House of Representatives Rejects Judicial Redistricting

April 22, 2013

A proposal to redraw Tennessee's judicial districts for the first time since 1984 was killed on Friday when House members voted against it.

Even if the measure had passed the current makeup of the 13th Judicial District, which includes DeKalb County, would have remain unchanged. The district includes Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, and White Counties.

The State House of Representatives voted 66-28 to defeat the measure sponsored by Republican Representative Jon Lundberg of Bristol. The companion bill in the Senate was approved 27-4 earlier this month. The plan from Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville, would have affected 22 counties in eight districts. The number of judicial districts would have been reduced from 31 to 29.

Most of the House members against the measure said they felt they were being dictated to by the Senate, particularly Ramsey.

The proposal would have created separate judicial districts for Rutherford and Williamson counties because of population growth in the Nashville suburbs over the last three decades.

Two judicial districts in northwestern Tennessee made up of Lake, Dyer, Obion and Weakley counties would have been merged into a single district. Meanwhile, Coffee County would have ceased to have its own district and instead be folded into one with Cannon, Warren and Van Buren counties.

Ramsey has said the changes were not expected to affect the positions of existing judges, but that the elimination of two judicial districts would reduce the positions of two prosecutors and public defenders.

He estimated the cost savings of eliminating those four positions would be more than $600,000.

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