8 applicants vie for Bartlett Municipal Court seat

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At a Jan. 26 work session, the Bartlett city board and mayor heard from seven of the eight applicants who want to fill an open seat on the municipal court. The person selected will replace the late Judge Freeman Marr.

Marr, one of Bartlett’s two city judges, died Dec. 17 at age 91 after having served on the bench since 1969. The board is expected to select Marr’s replacement at the Feb. 9 business meeting.

The person selected will serve as the interim city judge until the municipal election in November. The one elected then will serve the remainder of Marr’s eight-year term, which runs until 2018.

Applicants were Joe R. Bartlett, Joseph D. Barton, Joyce C. Broffitt, James Robert Ferguson, Timothy J. Francavilla, Henry W. Miller, Lorenzo Derek Renfroe (not present) and Phillip R. Walker.

Renfroe’s name now appears to be removed from consideration for not attending the interview session or responding to the telephone invitation sent to each applicant.

Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald said, “Unless one of the Alderman place his name in consideration, he will have missed his opportunity.”

Some candidates are familiar faces vying for the judicial position. When Bartlett Municipal Judge George McCrary died in October 2009, three of the current candidates applied to fill his position — Barton, Miller and Walker. In 2010, Barton and Miller ran for the judge’s seat against Dan Brown, who won the election.

The applicants

JOE R. BARTLETT has been with the Tennessee Department of Safety (DOS) for 29 years and currently serves as Attorney IV, supervising three division offices that support law enforcement agencies in asset forfeiture. He often sits in as judge in administrative matters involving the department and is a certified Rule 31 Supreme Court Mediator.

He is the DOS chief litigator, training more than 600 law enforcement agencies and helping the Tennessee Highway Patrol and county/city law enforcement agencies develop policies and procedures for their asset forfeiture efforts. He is a litigation specialist in both criminal and civil law. Bartlett also maintains his own active caseload of about 3,000 cases per year. His law office is in Arlington.

Joseph D. Barton, who has a law office in Millington, has appeared in criminal court in Fayette, Tipton and Shelby counties over the past 27 years.

He is vice president for legal affairs at Dick Moore Inc., where he has worked since 1988. He also has been a solo practitioner since 1988 with a civil and criminal practice.

JOYCE CASSANDRA BROFFITT spent eight years as a trial division leader in the Shelby County General Sessions Court before being appointed a judge for Division 9 in 1996. She was re-elected in 1998 and 2006, and she retired from the office in 2014.

She has served as a Shelby County pre-trial services counselor, Shelby County assistant district attorney, Frayser community court judge and judge for the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary.

JAMES ROBERT FERGUSON is a solo practitioner in his fifth year of practice, primarily in criminal defense. He has a law office in Memphis. He has traveled over 50,000 miles in recent years and dealt with 70 different jurisdictions, representing clients on a variety of felony and misdemeanor criminal matters.

As a project coordinator with the University of Memphis, he has assisted in training law enforcement officers in the Memphis model of the Crisis Intervention Training Program.

TIMOTHY J. FRANCAVILLA is an associate attorney with Brannon Law Firm in Memphis, and the main focus of his practice for the past 18 years has been criminal law with heavy emphasis on litigation. He also maintains a practice in civil, juvenile and administrative litigation.

He has previously served as a special judge for Marr in Bartlett City Court and as a special judge in Shelby County General Sessions Criminal Court for four judges in Division 8 drug court, Division 9, Division 10 Domestic Violence Court and Division 11.

HENRY W. MILLER has represented clients in state and federal courts, and his areas of practice include criminal defense, consumer bankruptcy, personal injury, workers’ compensation, probate and family law. He has prepared and prosecuted many cases to conclusion, by trial, arbitration, mediation and settlement.

He also has served as a special judge in the criminal and civil divisions of the Shelby County General Sessions Court as well as Memphis City Court. He is a partner in the Miller Law Firm, where he has worked since 1994.

PHILLIP R. WALKER, whose law office is in Bartlett, is experienced in civil litigation, family law, bankruptcy, traffic, probate, and criminal law and procedure. His work has included trial of jury and nonjury cases in local, state and federal bankruptcy courts throughout west Tennessee. He has served as a special judge for Memphis and in the Shelby County General Sessions Court, as well as serving as a special judge for Marr and Brown. His experience includes practicing before the Bartlett Municipal Court in most areas of its jurisdiction, including criminal matters, traffic violations and code enforcement actions.

To review each candidate’s cover letter and resume, review the .PDF document at this link.


Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to bartlett.editor@journalinc.com.