HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – A former Tri-Cities state lawmaker wants to be the next attorney general of Tennessee.
Jerome Cochran represented Carter County as a state representative in General Assembly from 2002 to 2006. He has been an administrative law judge based in Middle Tennessee for seven years.
Cochran is one of six men – all attorneys – who applied for the job. On Friday, the Tennessee Supreme Court announced the names and set a timetable for interviews and a final selection.
“I think my experience makes me qualified to be the attorney general of Tennessee,” Cochran told News Channel 11 in an interview Friday night.
The Tennessee Supreme Court will choose the replacement for Attorney General Herbert Slatery, who announced he would not seek another term.
“The attorney general is the people’s lawyer in Tennessee,” Cochran said. “It’s a job that touches everyone’s life.”
Cochran said Tennessee is the only state in the nation that allows the state’s highest court to choose the state’s chief legal officer.
“Essentially you need the vote of three judges and you become attorney general of the State of Tennessee for eight years,” he said.
The six applicants are:
- Donald Q. Cochran, Jr.
- Jerome Cochran
- D. Michael Dunavant
- Culver Schmid
- Jonathan Thomas Skrmetti
- Bill Young
All the candidates except Cochran have experience in district, state, or federal legal roles. He said his background as a small town attorney, a state lawmaker, and an administrative law judge will bring a different and needed perspective.
“Just simply because you don’t represent the governor in Nashville or used to be a former U.S. attorney working in federal courts all the time here, that there are other lawyers who are just as qualified and they can handle the job also,” he said.
The Tennessee Supreme Court will conduct interviews Aug. 8–9 and then appoint the next attorney general.
The Supreme Court outlined the attorney general’s chief responsibilities in a news release Friday.
“As the chief legal officer of the state, the Attorney General and Reporter represents state officers and agencies and manages a staff of approximately 340 employees working in five offices across Tennessee. The Office of the Attorney General represents the State in criminal appeals and defends the State in civil actions in state and federal court. The Office also has the authority to investigate and prosecute civil actions for environmental enforcement, antitrust violations, Medicaid fraud, and consumer fraud. The Office has four major divisions – Civil Litigation (Civil Law, Environmental, Real Property & Transportation), Criminal Justice (Criminal Appeals, Federal Habeas Corpus, Law Enforcement & Special Prosecutions), State Services and Litigation (Education & Employment, Financial, Health Care, Public Interest, Tax) and Public Protection (Bankruptcy, Consumer Protection, Tobacco Enforcement).”Tennessee Supreme Court news release
Cochran said if chosen, he will remain politically neutral.
“I’m there to enforce the laws that the Tennessee legislature passes,” he said. “I’m not there to make laws or give my personal opinion about what the laws should be.”
The new term for the Attorney General starts Sept. 1.