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New judicial district would be 4 counties
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A plan that would more than double the size of Warren County’s judicial district has the local district attorney scratching her head.
“Why fix it if it’s not broken?” asked District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis of the new proposal that would put Warren County into a judicial district with Coffee, Cannon and Van Buren counties. “They still haven’t told us a good reason for redistricting.”
Warren and Van Buren counties currently make up the 31st Judicial District which was formed in 1990. The district is the newest and smallest district in the state, cut from a district which used to include Coffee County.
In supporting the plan, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) pointed out it has been almost 30 years since the districts were last drawn.
“While the 1984 map made great strides by consolidating public defenders, district attorneys and judges into judicial districts, it’s clear that particular politics at the time influenced the map resulting in untenable inefficiencies,” Ramsey said. “This map corrects those mistakes and brings our judicial districts into the 21st century.”
The proposed redistricting effects 22 counties and eight districts.
Given the plan which lawmakers will proceed with during this General Assembly, Zavogiannis said a claim the move would save $600,000 in this district will not stand up to the light of day.
“I don’t think their bean counters have considered everything,” Zavogiannis said. “I don’t believe they’ve thought about the expense this will cause or the contracts it will disrupt. It’s going to open up a firestorm.”
Zavogiannis also contends the citizens of the state are happy with their districts.
“They need to look at what the citizens and their constituents want,” Zavogiannis said.
The newest proposed district is half the size of the first Warren County was going to be placed in. Originally, Warren County was in an eight-county judicial district which ran all the way north to the Kentucky line.
Any changes to the district would be reflected in the 2014 elections, something Zavogiannis said is another hardship.
“It will of course make it more difficult,” Zavogiannis said, pointing to campaigns having to cover double the ground, as well as Coffee County representing a major part of the new district.