Judge Gary Wade, former Sevierville Mayor and leader in fundraising efforts for the national park, is one of only three candidates for a spot on the Tennessee Supreme Court.
“The process was interesting and competitive,” said Wade, “and I’m honored to be among those on the list to go to the Governor.”
Wade was the first-ever Sevier County Judge to make it as high as the Criminal Appeals Court when he was appointed in 1987. “Should I be successful, this would also be a first,” said Wade.
For all vacancies on the state’s appellate courts (which includes the Supreme Court), the Judicial Selection Commission holds public hearings on the candidates who’ve applied for the position and then interviews the candidates in a closed session. Following the interviews, the commission selects three nominees for recommendation to the governor. The governor may either choose from the list or reject the first panel of nominees and request a second panel, but he must select a nominee from the second panel.
On Thursday and Friday last week, the selection commission conducted interviews and heard from references for 11 candidates vying for the position. Each candidate was allowed two or three persons to speak on their behalf for a total of ten minutes. “They covered my legal career through Tom (Attorney Tom Miller), my community support through Latonya (Latonya Miller, Public Affairs Specials for the National Park Service), and my personal life through my son Jack,” said Wade.
There are actually two vacancies on the state’s highest court as veteran justices E. Riley Anderson and Adolpho A. Birch Jr. are planning to retire at the end of August. If Wade is not selected by Governor Bredesen, he could conceivably apply for the second vacancy. “I hope that I won’t have to reapply, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there,” said Wade.
Other choices the Governor has for the position include Davidson County Chancellor Richard Dinkins and Covington lawyer J. Houston Gordon.
Wade was the Mayor of Sevierville from 1977 until 1987, the same year he was appointed to his current position on the appeals court. He was subsequently reelected to the bench in 1990 and 1998.
Wade graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1970 and went on to get his law degree from the UT College of Law.
He is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association and the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Wade has been a strong advocate for the Smokies as Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park President.
He is also a member of the Walters State Community College Foundation Board of Trustees and the Pellissippi State Technical Community College President’s Associates.