- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Republican Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday named Appeals Judge Roger A. Page to fill a vacancy on the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Page will join the state’s highest court in mid-March, unless state lawmakers can resolve their differences on a confirmation process for judicial nominees before then. The vacancy was created by the retirement of Justice Gary Wade, who had given Democrats a 3-2 majority on the high court’s bench.

A constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2014 granted the Legislature the power to reject the governor’s nominees, but the House and Senate have so far been unable to agree on a mechanism to do so.

Haslam appointed 60-year-old Page to the Court of Appeals in 2011. He was previously a circuit judge serving Chester, Henderson and Madison counties in West Tennessee.

“We are fortunate to have someone with such a depth of experience for this important position,” Haslam said in his announcement.

Page said he was inspired to run for judge after his 23-year-old niece was slain in 1995.

“My brother asked that I break the news to our parents. Telling my parents that their oldest granddaughter had been murdered was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life,” Page wrote in his application.

“I watched how her case progressed through the criminal court and knew that I should attempt to use my talents to improve our justice system,” he said.

Page was a pharmacist before earning his law degree from the University of Memphis in 1984. He is married to Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy.

In his Supreme Court application, he touted his vast experience presiding over trials and appeals cases.

“I have presided over more than 400 trials and authored over 330 appellate opinions,” Page said. “I want to use my experience, qualifications, integrity, and work ethic to serve on the Tennessee Supreme Court and to make our State a better place for all.”

In some of Page’s notable cases as judge he:

- Wrote a 2014 appeals court opinion upholding the murder conviction in a 2010 slaying in Columbia. Michael Jarvis Shipp, who was 17 years old at the time of the shooting, had claimed that he did not receive effective legal representation at trial because his attorney failed to seek suppression of his statement to the police.

- Joined in a 2013 appeals court opinion ordering a new trial for a former Fort Campbell soldier convicted of taking part in the execution-style shootings at a Taco Bell in Clarksville in 1994 because he had shoddy legal representation. Prosecutors in 2014 dropped the case against David Gene Housler Jr. of Radcliff, Kentucky.

- Presided over 2005 case in which a Madison County jury awarded a Texas family $1.5 million after their vehicle was struck by two trucks in an Interstate 40 construction zone.

- Called a 2002 case of a former nurse convicted of killing her husband with insulin injections “the worst thing I’ve heard of one family member doing to another.” Page sentenced defendant Janalee Wilson of Panama City, Florida, to life in prison.

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