Judge says she's not endorsing in clerk's race, despite yard sign

Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 12:15pm

Juvenile Court Judge Betty Adams Green says a David Smith campaign yard sign that currently sits in her front yard doesn’t mean she’s publicly supporting any candidate in Davidson County’s Juvenile Court Clerk election. 

In recent days, a blue-and-yellow sign in support of Smith — a General Sessions Court officer who’s leading the fundraising battle — has popped up in front of Green’s East Nashville house. According to Green, the yard sign reflects the inclinations of her husband, not her.

“I don’t officially support him, but my husband can,” Green said. “Under the rules of judicial conduct, I can’t endorse a candidate or come out publicly in support of a candidate, and I agree with that.”

Green, rumored by many to be privately supporting Smith, hasn’t shied away from her frustrations while working with current clerk Vic Lineweaver since his arrival in 2002.

Despite her pledge to remain publicly neutral, Green said she “does have a right to an opinion.”

“I think we need to make a few changes in the way the office is run,” Green said. “Whether Vic can do that, I don’t know. He’s been in there for two straight terms and we’re still having problems.”

After a string of negative headlines over the past few years, the embattled Lineweaver is facing competition from a horde of candidates in the May 4 Democratic primary. Early voting began yesterday.

Besides Smith, other notable candidates include school board member Karen Johnson, Councilwoman Vivian Wilhoite and Councilman Eric Crafton, who is running as a Republican.

Green said there are “several candidates” in the crowded field who she said could implement needed changes.

21 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 4/15/10 at 5:30

Not surprised at this. It's the Smith/Courthouse
crowd that's pushing his election. Not
qualified compared to several of the other
candidates. Nashvillians need to break up
the East Nashville mentality on these local

By: idgaf on 4/16/10 at 2:55

Really , really tacky. The endorcement that is not an "official" endorcement.

Not much doubt who she would prefer. I would feel better about it if he at least worked in the clerks office.

Again I say this position should not be up to the voters it should a carreer appointment with removal only for cause.

By: bfra on 4/16/10 at 3:37

I would see nothing wrong with her supporting someone. Her job is served better if a more competent clerk's dept. was available.

Vic has certainly given enough cause for him to be ousted, but he is still there and has the audacity to run again!

By: xhexx on 4/16/10 at 7:13

They say appearances are everything, While there probably isn't anything wrong with her husband putting the sign up, there is the appearance of impropriety. Both she and her husband should know better.

By: PKVol on 4/16/10 at 7:22

When you're a family member of an elected official, you're held to a higher standard than a regular Joe or Jane Citizen.

Also, it is considered a conflict of interest to have an interest in who wins the election, which is why she can't 'publicly' endorse a candidtate. If she is a part owner of the house, the sign in the yard is a public endorsement of the cadidate by her.

She is way too close to the edge of ethical conduct on this issue. Come on Betty, you should be better than this.

By: SRJ on 4/16/10 at 7:56

A sign in the yard does not mean that Judge Green is endorsing anyone. My daughter, a college student who lives with me, placed a Ron Paul sign in my yard during the Presidential Primary. I did not endorse Ron Paul and did not vote for him. However, I did not want to deny my daughter her right to express her opinion.

By: idgaf on 4/16/10 at 8:33

I personally would like the media to do a story on what makes all these people running for office qualified for it.

What have they run before? This is not an entry leval position or one where they can do no harm.

Gotta feel sorry for the people in the office that have a management change so often and have to teach them the job.

By: SRJ on 4/16/10 at 8:35

I would like to ask govskeptic a question. Why do you feel that David Smith is less qualified than the others ? He is the only Candidate that has actual experience in how the Court system works. David Smith has 22 years experience.

By: bonk on 4/16/10 at 8:52


Actual experience? He's a court officer. A bailiff. Just because someone has been an awesome security guard at an office doesn't mean he's qualified to run the office. Smith is probably going to win and there is a strong indication that he will win in no small measure because of Judge Green's tacit support. The question should not be whether Smith is a better choice than Vic. The real question should be if Judge Green was going to be hand picking the court clerk, why didn't she actually pick someone qualified.

By: Lucy on 4/16/10 at 9:00

I beleive David is a ditto Vic...She has had that sign up for a long time...Husband...Whatever...

By: i.am.a.taxpayer on 4/16/10 at 9:56

The sign situation is a non-issue. I have put signs up when my spouse either could not care less or did not particularly support the candidate. Having a sign in the yard does not obligate every member of the household to vote for and support that candidate.

As far as being qualified, serving in elected office is usually not rocket science or brain surgery. What is needed is an honest, decent, hard-working person. David Smith sounds qualified, and he is able to understand the community and to get along with people.

While there may be multiple people who are qualified, the comments which say David Smith is unqualified are not legitimate. Maybe they think the only qualification for elected office is that the candidate who wins should be the one they supported.

By: bonk on 4/16/10 at 11:03

Taxpayer. I don't know who to support. There are plently of honest, decent, hardworking people in this town. That doesn't mean they are all qualified. To me, the most basic questions are things like: do you have experience managing a budget? Have you ever supervised, hired, and fired employees? What about leadership experience?

Nobody in the field really strikes me as a real winner. Smith just hasn't done any of those things. His experience amounts to holding down a chair in a Nashville courtroom and making sure nobody attacks the judge. Vic hasn't exactly impressed anyone either.

If the taxpayers of Nashville are going to pay someone a $100K+ salary, shouldn't we have the right to expect that their qualifications consist of something more than just being a decent fellow?

By: not_guilty on 4/16/10 at 11:48

The restrictions on a judge or judicial candidate making endorsements of candidates for other offices are constitutionally suspect on First Amendment grounds, at least since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, 536 U.S. 765 (2002). That having been said, as a prudential matter Judge Green's conduct here is questionable.

I seriously doubt that Mr. Green is as insensitive to placing his wife in a compromised position as she suggests. IMHO, the judge is being disingenuous.

By: idgaf on 4/16/10 at 3:46

By: bonk on 4/16/10 at 12:03
If the taxpayers of Nashville are going to pay someone a $100K+ salary, shouldn't we have the right to expect that their qualifications consist of something more than just being a decent fellow?

YES that is why we should not be electing them from anyone that fills out the papers and runs.

I think I have decided to vote no against Betty not that I expect it will do any good but it will make me feel good. I would like to see what a real judicial election looks like.

By: idgaf on 4/16/10 at 3:48

The upside is that if smith turns out to be another vic we can blame her.

By: sidneyames on 4/16/10 at 5:32

judge green, shame on you. you are so transparent. i have a lineweaver sign because both my husband and i will vote for him.

if we disagree, we just don't put up a sign. you're a judge and should stay away from any signs of impropriety.

i tend to not believe you. The sign is in your yard and did you put a "disclaimer" on the sign? After all, not everyone who drives by your home, knows that your "household" is divided.

By: nedwilliams on 4/17/10 at 10:14

Qualified? The truth is, such offices are largely run by the career people, but you need someone at the top who is willing to make necessary course corrections and hiring/firing decisions rather than pad their own nest. Eric Crafton is a successful general contractor, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a double major from Vanderbilt, and is a decorated Navy veteran.

By: bfra on 4/17/10 at 11:47

Anyone that is stupid enough to vote for Lineweaver, with his record, should not be allowed to vote. At least they should have a mental evaluation.

By: howardjonesjuve... on 4/18/10 at 5:51

Howard Jones Juvenile Court Clerk May 2010
Please do the citizens a favor. Publish the education and experience of ALL the candidates that are running for the this office. Have they ever hired or fired anyone? Have they ever managed a million dollar budget? Have they supervised an organization of more than 100 people? Have they had direct experience working with juvenile court? Please publish this information.

By: unbridledskeptic on 4/18/10 at 8:16

Judge Green is even more ignorant than she apparently thinks the rest of us are if she really thinks any one with good sense believes that load of crap.

By: youhtmare on 5/13/10 at 1:56

Dear Judge Betty Green We all know who the big problem is it would be you my dear and your unorgizied crew of moron you employ at juvenile court !
we actually pay you to do a job and Betty Green you do such a horrible job
and non american speaking spanish person could do a much better job
you let kids get molested killed taking from good parents you let DCS & CPS tell you lies you do not hold people accountable for there actions in court you are not accountable your own self you just take kick backs instead and put them in your pocket as you get richer everyday off the victems like familys you tear apart
i think the FBI needs to take a good look at you and the rest of your people that work for you ! and you should all be in jail for the rest of your life's for not obeying the freedoms and liberty's of this nation and the constitution of the united states of AMERICA ! Betty Green please step down from your position do NASHVILLE afavor your not qualified to do this job!