published Saturday, March 15th, 2014

2 campaign for open Hamilton County Circuit Court judge seat


This is a court of general jurisdiction in Tennessee. In Hamilton County, judges hear civil cases and appeals of decisions from General Sessions Courts. The court's jurisdiction overlaps at times with Chancery Court, meaning some cases can be filed in either court. There are four divisions, each with its own judge, in Hamilton County.

Source: Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

The two remaining candidates for an open judge seat in Hamilton County Circuit Court each bring decades of legal experience to the race.

J.B. Bennett and Catherine Cate White, both Republicans, will face each other in the May 6 primary race for the party's nomination in the August general election.

The winner of the upcoming primary contest likely will be the next Circuit Court judge for Division 1 since the lone Democratic candidate, attorney Stuart James, dropped out of the race earlier this month.

Judge Jacqueline Bolton publicly announced her retirement from her seat as Division 1 judge last year, creating the opening.

The three other divisions of Circuit Court have incumbent judges seeking unopposed re-election. They are Judges Jeff Hollingsworth, L. Marie Williams and W. Neil Thomas III.

White, 53, has been in law practice for 25 years and worked in areas including special counsel for Chattanooga, worker's compensation, General Sessions Court, contract disputes and condemnations.

White said her experience in family law and other legal areas makes her a good candidate for the position.

"... It's important to have someone on the bench who knows what [families] are feeling and what it takes to get them some closure," White said.

Bennett, 48, has practiced law since 1993 with the firm Spears, Moore, Rebman and Williams. At that firm he's worked mainly in complex civil cases and jury trials.

"I've been looking to give back to the community through public service and looking for the right time," Bennett said.

White has sat as special judge in Circuit Court and Chattanooga City Court. Bennett has sat as special judge in General Sessions Court.

Most of White's practice since 1995 has been in family law. That legal field contains casework including divorce, alimony, parenting plans, prenuptial agreements and protective orders.

White, a graduate of Girls Preparatory School, received her undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and her law degree from Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

Bennett is a graduate of Boyd-Buchanan High School. He received both his undergraduate degree in political science and law degree from the University of Tennessee.

Contact staff writer Todd South at or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouth CTFP.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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