TENNESSEE EDUCATION LAWS ANNOTATED
CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE
ADOPTED IN CONVENTION AT NASHVILLE, FEBRUARY 23, 1870. PROCLAIMED AND IN EFFECT, MAY 5, 1870, AS AMENDED.
ARTICLE VII STATE AND COUNTY OFFICERS
Civil officers — Election — Vacancies.
Sec. 2. Vacancies. — Vacancies in county offices shall be filled by the county legislative body, and any person so appointed shall serve until a successor is elected at the next election occurring after the vacancy and is qualified. [As amended; Adopted in Convention December 6, 1977; approved at election March 7, 1978; Proclaimed by Governor, March 31, 1978.]
Compiler’s Notes. Prior to the 1978 amendment this section read: ‘‘Should a vacancy occur, subsequent to an election, in the office of Sheriff, Trustee or Register, it shall be filled by the Justices; if in that of the clerks to be elected by the people, it shall be filled by the Courts; and the person so appointed shall continue in office until his successor shall be elected and qualified; and such office shall be filled by the qualified voters at the first election for any of the County Officers.’’ This amendment was adopted by a vote of 195,183 in favor and 166,728 against.
Cross-References. Procedure for filling vacancies in county offices, § 5-5-113.
Vacancies in county legislative bodies, § 5-5-102. Cited: Waters v. State ex rel. Schmutzer, 583 S.W.2d 756 (Tenn. 1979); Shelby County Election Comm’n v. Turner, 755 S.W.2d 774 (Tenn. 1988).
NOTES TO DECISIONS
Meaning of terms.
—General sessions judge.
—Juvenile court judge.
—State officers distinguished.
Constitutionality of statutes.
Meaning of Terms.
Until such time as the general assembly speaks affirmatively and with specificity upon the subject, the phrase ‘‘next election,’’ when considered in the context of Tenn. Const., art. VII, § 5, voicing the
constitutional imperative that elections of judicial and civil officers be elected on the first Thursday in August ‘‘forever thereafter’’ and when considered in the light of almost two centuries of custom, tradition, habit and practice, must be held to mean the regular August general election. McPherson v. Everett, 594 S.W.2d 677 (Tenn. 1980).
The phrase, ‘‘next election occurring after the vacancy’’ does not include any primary election. McPherson v. Everett, 594 S.W.2d 677 (Tenn. 1980).
This section is not self-executing and is dependent upon the adoption of legislation and as to Knox County is effective on and after September 1, 1980, when the county legislative body is inducted into office but until that time the appointive power resides in the quarterly court. State ex rel. Maner v. Leech, 588 S.W.2d 534 (Tenn. 1979).
The county legislative body may fill a vacancy pending the August election. This is the clear mandate of Tenn. Const., art. VII, § 2. Marion County Bd. of Comm’rs v. Marion County Election Comm’n, 594 S.W.2d 681 (Tenn. 1980).
This provision is somewhat ambiguous and is not self-executing. McPherson v. Everett, 594 S.W.2d 677 (Tenn. 1980).
3. Temporary Judges.
Section 17-2-116(a)(1) does not violate this section or Tenn. Const., art. XI, § 17 since neither constitutional provision applies to the designation of temporary special general sessions court judges who substitute for but do not replace the incumbent judge. State ex rel. Witcher v. Bilbrey, 878 S.W.2d 567 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1994).
4. County Officers.
There are many county offices other than those enumerated in Tenn. Const., art. VII, § 1, and since general words rather than restrictive ones were chosen in this section, the appointing power set out in this section extends to all county offices including, but not limited to, those county offices specified in Tenn. Const., art. VII, § 1. State ex rel. Winstead v. Moody, 596 S.W.2d 811 (Tenn. 1980).
The overall duties of the clerk of the circuit court and general sessions court of Knox County are applicable to the people of Knox County alone; therefore the office is a county office. State ex rel. Webster v. LaBonte, 597 S.W.2d 893 (Tenn. 1980).
When acting in a law enforcement capacity, a sheriff acts as a county official under Tennessee law. Spurlock v. Sumner County, 42 S.W.3d 75 (Tenn. 2001).
5. —General Sessions Judge.
Since the court found that in creating the office of judge of the general sessions court there was no legislative intent apparent to create a court with jurisdiction beyond the borders of the county, that the county bore the expenses of the court, paid the judge’s salary, and was entitled to the fees collected by the court and that the overall duties are applicable to the people of the county alone, it was held that the general sessions court was a county rather than a state office. State ex rel. Winstead v. Moody, 596 S.W.2d 811 (Tenn. 1980).
6. —Juvenile Court Judge.
A juvenile court judge is a county officer, and Tenn. Const., art. VII, § 2, authorizes the county legislative body to fill vacancies. Marion County Bd. of Comm’rs v. Marion County Election Comm’n, 594 S.W.2d 681 (Tenn. 1980).
7. —Probate Judges.
The statutes make it clear that the county court is the probate court. The 1978 constitutional amendments superseded this court. Viewed realistically the probate court is just as much a part of our judicial system as the juvenile court. Probate judges are county officers. Marion County Bd. of Comm’rs v. Marion County Election Comm’n, 594 S.W.2d 681 (Tenn. 1980).
8. —State Officers Distinguished. The primary badge of a state officer is that the general assembly