May 2000 Vol 8, No. 4
Published by the Davidson County
Circuit Court Clerk's Office
506 Metro Courthouse, Nashville,TN 37201
Established by George L. Rooker (1929-1993),
(Circuit Court Clerk,1968-1993)

Richard R. Rooker, Circuit Court Clerk
Gene Baker Editor

The Judge Who Won Election After His Death

When older lawyers get together to talk about the good old days, their fondest memories usually are about funny things that have happened in the courtroom and the people who characterized a particular era.

If you've ever had an opportunity to sit in on one of these sessions, you would probably agree to pay admission for a repeat performance. Not only do the stories provide excellent entertainment, they instill a sense of history not found in any other form.

Take, for example, the time when a General Sessions judge running for reelection in 1966 defeated his opponent in the June Democratic primary, despite the fact that he had died several days before the election.

That judge was the colorful Brown Taylor, who at the age of 73 had served 28 years on the General Sessions bench and was considered a shoo-in for another eight-year term until he failed to overcome pneumonia just days before the 1966 primary.

Out of fairness to Taylor's lone opponent, Nashville attorney John I. Harris, the county's Democratic Primary Board pasted a blank piece of paper over Taylor's name on the ballot. But Taylor's popularity with the voters prevailed, precipitating a vacancy for the nomination.

The executive committee would then select attorney Joe C. Loser Jr., who went on to win the August general election as the Democratic nominee.

In casting their primary votes for a deceased candidate, the county's Democrats were symbolically echoing their appreciation for the late judge's many years of dedicated service with a flair.

Taylor endeared himself to the public immediately upon his initial election to the bench. His first act was to advertise in the local newspapers that all clients owing him legal fees for services he provided in his private law practice could "consider all debts paid."

Taylor would later gain national attention in a case involving a weekend crackdown on persons operating vehicles without drivers licenses.

About 142 persons had been arrested and brought before Taylor to face the music. Remembering that he did not have a drivers license himself, the judge proceeded to fine himself before fining other offenders $2 and court costs.

During his long career on the bench, Taylor's sharp wit often brought gales of laughter from courtroom audiences.

It was a style that would later be emulated by the late General Sessions Judge Edward Gale Robinson.

But that's another story.

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