Carter County-based attorney Stacy Street was selected Tuesday as the new First Judicial District Criminal Court judge, he confirmed in a phone interview.
“It’s humbling and I’m very appreciative of the process and the governor's confidence,” Street said, who was driving from court in Jonesborough to court in Elizabethton when he received the call from Governor Bill Haslam’s legal council.
“I was on the phone talking to a client and told him I’d better get this,” Street said about seeing a 615 area code number on his caller ID.
“It’s a relief the process is over and I know it’s a relief for everybody,” he said.
Street was one of three finalists chosen by the Judicial Nominating Commission after public interviews in February. The three — Street, Gene Scott and Steve Finney — were interviewed last week in Nashville by Haslam. Street was the only candidate who received all 14 votes from the commission when the panel began selecting the three finalists.
Street said he couldn’t tell if that gave him an advantage or not, but “the questions were very fair.”
Street, Scott and Finney are long-time friends and Street said, “I appreciate Steve and Gene. They’re good friends of mine (and) we’ve all gotten along in the process. Regardless of who had gotten it we’d still be friends. I really appreciate them and how we all handled this long process.”
He also said his friends, “will make fine judges one day.”
Street said he applied for the position, which became vacant with the retirement of Judge Lynn Brown, because he wants to make a difference in people’s lives, and the chance may not come up again anytime soon.
“First of all, these positions don’t come available very often. If it’s ever something I was going to do, it felt like the time,” he said.
“This position deals with very serious crimes, very serious consequences involved. That court’s important to me. I’ve spent 20-plus years in that court. Rather than sit on the sidelines and complain and take advantage of delays, I felt like I could do something to improve that court.”
Street said he will ask Judge Robert Cupp to swear him in, and that’s when the job becomes official.
“The governor’s counsel said I was to contact a local judge to schedule a swearing in. It would begin at that point,” Street said. “I think it would be appropriate for Judge Cupp to do that if he will.”
As for timing on the swearing in, Street said he’ll do it according to Cupp’s schedule.
After he’s sworn in, Street has six months to close out his private practice.
With about 200 open cases, “it’ll take every bit of it,” he said.
“I’ll resolve as many as I can and if I cannot get them resolved within the six months I will make arrangements for another attorney to take over,” he said.
Street, 45, lives in Elizabethton with his wife, Susan, and their two children.