Pemberton also seeks to be judge

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By Damon Lawrence

Another candidate has joined the race for 9th Judicial District circuit court judge.

Mike Pemberton filed his petition with the Roane County Election Commission on Monday.

“I’ve practiced law for 30 years, and have tried a lot of lawsuits,” he said. “I’ve always had an interest in being a judge and now is the time.”

Pemberton, a Rockwood native, joins Roane County Circuit Court Clerk Kim Nelson and Roane County Attorney Tom McFarland as candidates in the race.

They are vying for the position currently held by Russell Simmons Jr., who announced his retirement last year.

“You have to have a judge that has experience in trying lawsuits,” Pemberton said. “You wouldn’t want a doctor to do surgery on you who’s never done a surgery. There’s not very many legal issues that I haven’t tried, haven’t seen or haven’t handled, so I think I’ll be good at it.”

The 9th Judicial District includes Roane, Loudon, Meigs and Morgan counties.

“I’ve tried criminal cases in every county in the district,” Pemberton said. “I’ve tried civil cases in every county in the district except Meigs.”

Pemberton is a partner in the Knoxville law firm Pemberton and Scott. His wife, Dana, is also a partner in the firm. If elected, Pemberton said he would recuse from cases the firm has pending in the district.

“My firm is a family firm,” he said. “I couldn’t have my wife or brother-in-law practicing in front of me. That would not be appropriate.”

Pemberton brings a hefty war chest to the race. Tennessee finance records show his campaign raised $30,650 from Jan. 7 to Jan. 15. More than two dozen people donated to the campaign including his wife Dana ($1,500), attorney Pat Cooley ($1,500), Roane County Road Superintendent Dennis Ferguson ($500), attorney Sandy McPherson ($500), attorney Jennifer Raby ($500) and United Community Bank Vice President Darryl Meadows ($50).

McFarland said his campaign hasn’t started raising money yet. Finance records show Nelson’s campaign has raised $250. Charlotte Hazelwood was the lone contributor listed.

Early voting runs from July 18 through Aug. 2. Election Day is Aug. 7.

“I look forward to serving the people,” Pemberton said. “If I’m elected, you will find me to not only be a very experienced and well-qualified judge, but also a hard working judge. That’s what I do. Sixty-, 70-hour work weeks are routine.”

The circuit judge position pays $165,204.