The candidates for the Bradley County Criminal Court judgeship both came armed with numbers and statistics to a forum held in front of the Cleveland Kiwanis Club on Thursday afternoon.
Incumbent Judge Amy Armstrong Reedy (D) answered her challenger, Sandra Donaghy (R), saying it was “time for the truth” after Donaghy went through a litany of numbers she says points to Reedy’s failure on the criminal bench.
“I know the law and I follow it,” Donaghy said.
She said over the last 22 years as an attorney she has been focused only on criminal law.
“I have handled tens of thousands of cases and personally prosecuted 197 jury trials,” she said, adding she has also presided over juvenile drug court trials.
Donaghy said voters are telling her they are concerned about the issue of repeat offenders.
“I have a new slogan that says I think the catch-and-release policy is for fish and not for felons,” she said.
Donaghy said she wanted to point out the problems that have occurred under Reedy’s gavel.
“If there were not problems, I would not be running for this position,” she said.
She said Reedy’s performance record documented by the administrative office of the court shows productivity is low.
“That means she’s not working very hard,” Donaghy said.
She cited the record of a part-time judge she claimed disposed of more criminal cases than Reedy did serving full time.
“Her quality is low as well,” she continued. “[Of] all of the cases that are reviewed by the Court of Criminal Appeals, [Reedy] has more reversals than any other judge with Criminal Court jurisdiction in the surrounding states.”
Reedy strongly disputed Donaghy’s statements.
“I guess I should say the rest of the story, or the truth — maybe you’d like to hear that as well,” Reedy said.
She said there have been a lot of judges running this year and there has been confusion over what they do.
“Criminal Court is a trial court, not your general sessions court,” she said. “It’s where the most serious criminal cases are heard. That’s what I have done for you for four years.”
She said when she was first appointed to the bench, she became aware of “a huge backlog,” saying there were cases on the docket that had been there more than a decade.
“Over the last eight years, working very hard with jurors, some who are in this room, working with clerks, working with those who issue process, working with those deputies who serve process, we have managed to take a 2,400-criminal filing backlog, and it is completely gone,” Reedy said.
“I say ‘we’ because I work with jurors and that’s what we’ve done over these last eight years,” she said. “We have managed to bring our docket into a current position. Ms. Donaghy may not know that, because she hasn’t been here the last eight years.”
Reedy said Donaghy’s website states there are Polk County cases held in the historic courthouse at Benton.
“We haven’t done that for eight years,” Reedy said.
She added there has been an 82 percent success rate in adult drug court.
Donaghy rebutted that her “numbers are correct and available through the administrative office of the court’s website, and available to everyone. I believe you will see what I have reported has been borne out by the statistics — the official records of the state of Tennessee.”
Reedy said of the reference to performance records, in more than 31,000 cases over eight years “less than 1 percent of the cases handled has even been filed.”
“That is evidence people feel they have been treated fairly,” Reed said.