Gerald L. Melton, Public Defender for the 16th Judicial District, has officially announced his candidacy for re-election.
The 16th Judicial District is comprised of Rutherford and Cannon Counties. He will be a candidate in the Republican Primary to be held in May of this year.
The Public Defender is responsible for representing indigent persons who are accused of committing criminal offenses, "thereby fulfilling the right to counsel as provided by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article One Section Nine of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee," Melton stated. As Public Defender, Melton maintains an active personal caseload and supervises the work of nine Assistant Public Defenders. He is one of only two attorneys in the 16th District who is approved by the Tennessee Supreme Court to represent persons who are accused of crimes for which the possible penalty is death.
In addition to the Public Defender's obligations in the local courts and the various appellate courts, the job requires Melton to be the chief administrative officer for the local public defender's office. In the capacity, the Public Defender makes personnel decisions, budget decisions and has other administrative responsibilities attendant to running the local office. In performing these duties, Melton's goal has been to run the office "in accordance with sound business practices and the public trust." By applying conservative fiscal management, Melton points out that he has returned surplus funds to Rutherford County in each of the past two fiscal years.
He views the obligations of the Public Defender with an even broader vision than just the representation of individuals in court. In each case, the Public Defender not only represents the person immediately before the court, but also assures the continued viability of the Constitutional rights of all persons. Melton stated that his motto as Public Defender is, "Protecting the public by defending the Constitution." He added, "This task is more important today than ever before."
In addition to his duties as District Public Defender, Melton has a background of service to the legal profession. He has served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Tennessee Bar Association and as a member of the House of Delegates of the Tennessee Bar Association. He has been Continuing Legal Education Coordinator for the Public Defenders Conference of Tennessee and has served as an advisor to the Tennessee General assembly on matters of criminal law and procedure as a member of the Tennessee Sentencing Commission. His fellow Public Defenders have selected him President of the District Public defender's Conference on two separate occasions.
Melton currently serves on the Bench and Bar Relations Committee of the Administative Office of the Courts. Governor Haslam appointed him to serve and he currently serves on the Tennessee Medical Examiners Advisory Board for the State of Tennessee.
Public Defender Melton is active in community affairs as a member of the Lions Club, as a member of the Friends of Edgar Evans State Park and with his involvement with the Arts Center of Cannon County. His wife, Marcia, and he attend the Woodbury Church of Christ.
Gerald and Marcia are the proud parents of five children and grandparents of four, with a fifth grandchild on the way. Marcia is a professional educator in the Cannon County School system; she was recently honored by being named Supervisor of the Year for the State of Tennessee.
In his announcement, Melton stated, "It is the great appreciation that I have served as your Public Defender for several years, seeking to fulfill this public service obligation while at the same time maintaining balance of faith, family and friends. I humbly ask for your support as I seek the Republican Party nomination in May."
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