A Davidson County General Sessions judge candidate failed to disclose all legal proceedings in which she’s been a party when answering a Metro Council-administered questionnaire last fall.
Rachel Bell, one of three candidates running in the Democratic primary for the General Sessions Division VIII judgeship, referenced a single case, one in which she was a defendant, when asked, “Have you ever been a party in any legal proceeding? If so, explain.”
Bell neglected disclosing 16 cases in which she sued former clients who had apparently failed to pay her for legal services, according to legal documents.
Bell, competing against candidates Jack Byrd and Mike Jameson in next Tuesday’s election, chalked up the omissions to a misinterpretation of the question.
“When they said, ‘Have you been a party?’ I thought they meant, ‘Has somebody sued against me?’ ” Bell said, adding that she only listed cases in which she was an active defendant.
“That wasn’t an attempt not to disclose,” she said. “I have sued several clients who have not paid me.”
The case Bell did cite was what she called a “breach of contract matter” in which she was the defendant in a suit with AT&T. In the questionnaire, Bell said the case dealt with an advertisement that her law firm did not approve or authorize.
Bell neglected disclosing another legal proceeding in which she was the defendant, a case involving Night Technologies in 2008. She said this case was no longer active when she took the council’s survey.
Bell, a partner at Bell & Kinslow who works primarily in the high-volume General Sessions Court, said there are a variety of reasons why several of her clients have outstanding payments due her way.
“I do believe that lawyers work hard for our clients, and sometimes they just don’t want to pay you,” Bell said, adding that going before the bar association and litigation are two ways to retrieve her legal fees.
The questionnaire at issue came from the Metro Council’s Rules-Confirmations-Public Elections Committee in October when Bell vied for the judgeship that vacated following the death of Judge Leon Ruben.
The council instead appointed former Councilman Mike Jameson to fill the spot on the bench. Bell, Byrd and Jameson are now campaigning for this same judgeship.
Election Day is March 6.