EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the fourth in a series on the upcoming judge elections on Aug. 7.
Incumbent Mark Rogers and challenger Jeff Peach are matched against each other in a race for Circuit Court Judge, Division I, which handles primarily civil matters.
Both candidates answered these questions from The Post in advance of the Aug. 7 election.
Personal: Wife, Katie; children, Ryan, 24, (Chelsea), Hallie 18 and Abbey 15; granddaughter, Addison 10 months.
Background: Bachelor’s degree from MTSU in political science; Juris Doctorate from Nashville School of Law (member of Honor Council)
Career: Town of Smyrna town attorney, Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 mediator; Smyrna Police Department patrol, detective (retired); Smyrna Fire Department arson investigator; Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department detention, patrol deputy, DARE. Maury County Ambulance Service EMT, Maury County E911 System telecommunicator.
Why are you running for election?: The opportunity to serve my fellow citizens as one of the guardians of our Constitution and individual freedoms is one of the highest honors I can conceive. I have served in numerous capacities in the criminal justice system and legal field that have prepared me to serve as judge for the 16th District and I want to offer a “real-world” commonsense approach to the bench. As an attorney I have sat at the plaintiff’s table and the defendant’s table to ask questions and I have sat in the witness chair as a police detective answering questions. Experience is not measured in one facet, but should be multifaceted and I believe my experience ranging from detention officer to attorney will be an asset to the people of Rutherford and Cannon.
What is the most important characteristic a judge should have?: The most important characteristic a judge must possess is the ability to preside fairly over any matter before the court and to possess the fortitude to make the toughest decisions, even when those decisions are not popular. An elected judge of the community must be prepared to hear the controversial matters just as readily as those that appear not to be newsworthy.
What will be the foundation of your decision-making process on the bench?: Great question. I believe the role of our judiciary is simply to APPLY the laws and our Constitution, as written, to each case before the court. In my opinion, a judge should never aim towards a specific outcome, but rather remain cognizant of the role as judge and apply the facts to each case which stands on its own merits.
Why are you running as a Republican?: I am on the ballot as a Republican for no other reason than that is what I am, because I believe in the principles adopted by the Republican Party and I believe it would be disingenuous to the voters to present myself as an Independent or a Democrat. If others choose to change their political affiliation at each election cycle, that is their decision; but it is simply a matter of principle to me and I actually want the voter to know what I stand for before they vote.
Judge Mark Rogers
Personal: Married for 30 years to Jean Anne Rogers, an optometrist; three daughters, Jan Margaret, Anne Katherine and Addison. Members of First United Methodist Church.
I am the 13th child of the late Lois and C.D. Rogers of Readyville. My father served Cannon County as a county commissioner and member of the road board.
Background: Attended Kittrell Elementary and West Side Elementary, graduated from Kittrell High School, Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee College of Law. While in high school and college, worked part-time at Smithson’s Big Star Grocery in Woodbury and at J.C. Penney in Murfreesboro, and obtained a college work-study scholarship.
Practiced law for 27 years establishing a successful law practice on East Main Street in Murfreesboro. Brought cases before juries and judges in state and federal courts in Rutherford, Cannon, Warren, Coffee, Bedford, Davidson, Wilson, Williamson, Robertson, and other counties, and the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. During this time, also served as counsel for Main Street: Murfreesboro/Rutherford County, Inc, and the Rutherford County Emergency Communication District, E-911. Served as state president of the Tennessee Association for Justice. Lectured in continuing legal education programs.
Appointed to the bench by the governor in 2004 and elected in 2006 by the citizens of Rutherford and Cannon Counties. In 2009, named Trial Judge of the Year by the Southeastern Chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Currently serve as presiding judge for the 16th Judicial District.
Why are you running for election?: Being a judge requires more than just a law license. During my 27 years as a lawyer, I gained invaluable experience in the practice of law. When the opportunity arose to serve as judge, I welcomed the challenge to resolve disputes for the citizens of Rutherford and Cannon counties. Throughout my 10 years as Circuit Court judge, I have made tough and difficult decisions. I respect the rights of the parties who appear before the court. I want to continue to serve.
What is the most important characteristic a Judge should have?: A judge must be prepared for the wide range of issues that come before the court, willing to listen and follow the law which is to be applied to the facts in an impartial and fair manner.
What will be the foundation of your decision-making process on the bench?: I follow the law while respecting each party before the court. With my extensive experience and training, I have the discernment necessary to make tough decisions.
Why are you running as an Independent?: The judiciary must be independent and free from partisan influence. Whether you are a member of a particular political party or not should have no bearing on the action of the court. I was appointed by the governor and elected by the citizens of Rutherford and Cannon Counties. In 2007, I found myself in the unique position of working with then state Rep. Kent Coleman and state Sen. Jim Tracy to gain legislative approval to establish the Child Support Magistrate position on behalf of children in our communities. From this bipartisan effort, I determined our judicial system would be better served by my running as an Independent.