Four out of Five Judge Candidates in Blount County are NOT Rule Followers

There is a Sessions Judge Div. 2 Juvenile Court position open in Blount County. There are five candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the May 6 Primary.

Let’s back up to 1998, the first and last judicial race that I was involved in as a Campaign Manager. I managed a Republican nominee that had survived a multi candidate primary. I was brought on to manage the campaign from post primary to the General Election. On May 29, 1998 a REVISED JUDICIAL ETHICS COMMITTEE ADVISORY OPINION NO. 98-3 was issued. The Advisory opinion discussed that a non incumbent Judge not falsely represent themselves.

The Advisory opinion says,

It would not be a violation of Cannon 5A(3)(d)(iii) if the advertisement read as follows:

Experienced, Fair, Committed
Elect Candidate’s Name
Circuit Judge, Part II;


Experienced, Fair, Committed
Candidate’s Name
Circuit Court Judge, Part II;


Experienced, Fair Committed
Candidate’s Name
Candidate for Circuit Court Judge, Part II

The key is that all advertisements must have ELECT, FOR or CANDIDATE on the advertisement.

Let us now look at all five candidates signs in alphabetical order,

This candidates sign is NOT in  compliance.

This candidates sign is NOT in compliance.

This candidates sign is not in compliance.

This candidates sign is NOT in compliance.

This candidates sign is not in compliance

This candidates sign is NOT in compliance

This candidates sign is NOT in compliance

This candidates sign is NOT in compliance

This candidates sign IS compliant.

This candidates sign IS compliant.

As I began looking into this race. Many other questions have come to mind.

Tab Burkhalter is a sitting Blount County Commissioner and a member of the Blount County Republican Executive Committee. The ability to serve in both capacities while running as a candidate for a judicial position may be a violation.

Lance Evans accepted two campaign contributions back in the Summer of 2013. The contributions were reported in financial disclosures, after it came to light, I believe the Treasurer filed an affidavit that said the money was returned. However, in the expense portion of a financial disclosure does not reflect the refunds being returned.

Kenlyn Foster, according to her voting record with the Blount County Election Commission shows that she voted as a Democrat in both the Obama presidential preference poll (Primary) in March 2008 and the State primary in August 2008 when Mike Meares was a candidate.

Tammy Hicks, works in the Knox County District Attorney Generals office in DUI Sessions Court for a long time. On her website is states that Mike Flynn didn’t have any openings so she took the job in Knox. Unconfirmed sources indicate that Hicks has twice applied for openings with Mike Flynn and has not been hired. Additionally, Hicks is currently accepting MAJOR donations from Knox Co. DUI lawyers. Tommy Hindman and his wife gave 1500 apiece (maximum allowed), same goes for Marcos Garza and his homemaker wife (total of $3000), Steve Oberman gave $500. Reports indicate that her reception was a who’s who of Knox County attorneys.

Jim Snyder, resigned as Blount County Republican Party Chairman prior to announcing and becoming a candidate for Sessions Judge Div. 2 Juvenile Judge. Snyder is the only candidate to comply with the Ethics Committee’s 1998 Revised opinion on judicial candidate advertisements? Snyder has the most diverse experience in Blount County Sessions Div. 2 Juvenile Court.

You may also like...

9 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    I have reviewed the Advisory Opinion at and I disagree with the assertion that Lance Evans’ sign is not in compliance, but agree with the others that have been put forward as non-compliant. However, there is an argument to be made for Tab Burkhalter’s sign as well due to the content of the web URL.

  2. BHornback says:

    Tim, you can disagree all you desire to. However, no where on Evans sign, Burkhalter sign or the other two is the word Elect, For or Candidate. Without one of those three words, the signs are not in compliance period.

    As for a URL or website, that is a separate advertisement than a sign. Each advertisement MUST be in compliance or it is not.

    These folks are expecting citizens and their own legal counsel to follow the letter and rule of law and they can not themselves. Unbelievable.

  3. William Gribble says:

    Actually the Opinion doesn’t create a rule. It is an advisory opinion and although it should not be ignored it carries no legal precedent. Under the opinion, the word “for” is a suitable easy of distinguishing that the candidate is running for judge and not already the judge. The word “vote” carries the same message. It means vote (for) or (against). Reasonable people would know that “vote” means to “vote for” a candidate. Therefore, Lance Evan’s sign is compliant. I would rethink the accusation and correct it.

  4. BHornback says:

    William, I have considered your first comment (which I posted) I will NOT reconsider and change my opinion. I am a citizen journalist, not a lawyer. If Mr. Evans would like to contact me that’s fine. Now that he is a candidate, he falls into the public official standard. If I have published something it is my reading of the opinion.

    Certainly, nothing posted about anyone on here by me is with any agenda and is without malicious intent. As for your second comment, it will NOT be published because you attack someone who is NOT a public official and should they seek legal action against you, it will not be because I posted your comment.

  5. The Shadow says:

    I would think that if any thics committee releases any written “opininion,” then actions that would seem to run counter to that “opinion” would be in violation of the ethics rules. I’m just a layman, but I woud say a statement, labled an “opinion” or whatever would carry quite a bit of weight as an official statement from an official body.

  6. Anonymous says:

    While most of your arguments are based on a false premise, the accusations against Tammy Tilson Hicks are mediocre.
    First and foremost, why is having a good working relationship with your coworkers something that is not, at the very least, accredited? How is it that so shocking that coworkers would support someone who is nice to work with in a court room?

    Second, the fact that, in accordance to your sources, Tammy applied to a job under Mike Flynn, but took a position of prestige in Knox County makes absolutely no sway in a voters opinion.

  7. Researching Young Voter says:

    So, as much as I wanted this article to help me in my search for who to vote for in this election, it really didn’t give me any information worth my time. It did, however, drive me to comment– which I never do with these things. Therefore, I applaud the journalist who wrote this. Don’t get too excited. As I mentioned, this article didn’t give me any helpful information. I’m in college studying journalism and have been writing for quite a few years now, even if I am young. This article read as a biased (we can never find unbiased journalists anymore, can we?) and well-planned smearing of all candidates but one. I’m sure your “sources” wished to remain anonymous– those that were not public record–, but the fact remains that I’m sitting here wondering where you got some of this information. Who can I contact to fact-check these statements? I understand that however ridiculous this rule is, it should be followed. However, it seems to me like there was some idiotic digging going on here in order to discredit all candidates except Snyder, over a silly rule. Where’s the article containing the momentous experience that he has? Or his passion for helping young kids? This is an important position we’re about to vote for! Why are we worried about who got money from whom?! This is politics (gross, but true)! People are getting money from supporters! In fact, who is supporting him in this race? That’s something I’d love to know. You obviously are since you have a paid advertisement for him on your page. The one sentence about his “diverse experience” doesn’t make me want to vote for him. If anything, it’s turned me off to him. In my opinion, this is a cleverly (however ridiculous) timed piece of nonsense. I want to know who’s got the experience and the passion for this position. NOT who has a “for” on his or her sign. And the good ol’ boy system rears its ugly head once again!

  8. BHornback says:

    Researching Young Voter, how about first not hiding behind some anonymous name? I put my name on the website URL, I defend my postings. Second this is a personal website, not a multi million dollar corporate owned news outlet. So You can fact check all you like, I disclosed that the campaign that forced the Advisory Ethics Opinion in 1998, is one that I came into after the Primary to assist. I posted the advisory ethics opinion or it is linked here somewhere.

    I have already had one candidates supporter makes some veiled references to legal action. But that candidate went out and complied in at least a cursory attempt to comply.

    Here is the real question, if a Judge doesn’t comply with some little rule because he or she doesn’t deem it important. Then how will that Judge expect and hold parents accountable to the rules and laws.

    Mr. Snyder, clearly researched the law and the rules and has complied. Like him or not, out of 5 Blount Co candidates he complied. As for his paid ad, I ask that you reserve making ASSumption until you see the financial disclosures. Because you only make your self look like an —