Thursday, August 27, 2015

The City Court Clerk race and the cloud hanging over it

There are five major candidates for City Court Clerk, and all bring something to the table.

You have Justin Ford, Chair of the County Commission, Wanda Halbert, City Councilor from District 4 and a former MCS Board member, former County Commissioner and Juvenile Court Clerk Shep Wilbun, Thomas Long II, the son of outgoing City Court Clerk Thomas Long (who tried to not have to have the II listed on the ballot, the better to fool people into thinking they were voting for his father), and former City Court judge, prosecutor, and 23-year Circuit Court Judge Kay Robilio.

While I am disgusted with the younger Long's attempts to profit from his father's name with no apparent reason to vote for him otherwise, he is not necessarily the problem here.  While Kay Robilio was presumed to have a good career, everyone seems to have forgotten how it ended two years ago, a year earlier than her term as Circuit Court judge would have ended.  As the linked story notes, Judge Robilio resigned as a condition of her agreement with the Court of the Judiciary in regards to an ethics complaint filed in May 2013.  According to the CA story, she was accused of violating the judicial rules of impartiality in the handling of a post-divorce child custody issue.  Through her attorney, she claimed that she had done what she had done with the approval of all parties and had done nothing wrong.

If that is the case, why did she resign?  To this point, the local media, besieged by the Mayoral and Council races, have not had the time to ask that question.  It needs to be asked, because there is a very real chance, given the racial demographics of the City of Memphis, that the former judge could well be elected in October; There is NOT a runoff in this race, she is the only Caucasian candidate, and she has as much name recognition as the other major candidates.

I have no personal malice toward Judge Robilio, nor do I have any reason to have any.  I have never appeared in her courtroom (nor any others, for that matter, except on traffic tickets), and I have heard nothing but nice things about her and her family on a personal level.  However, if there is a real possibility that she is going to be elected to office, she needs to give a full as explanation as possible without violating her agreement with the Court of the Judiciary.

Because I am raising this issue, in order to avoid hurting any of the other candidates, I will NOT offer any endorsements in this race, because I do not want anyone to think I am doing this on behalf of anyone other than the average voter of the City of Memphis.  Judge Robilio, as a re-established public figure, needs to explain why this action had to be taken so that there can be no misunderstandings if she is elected City Court Clerk.

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