To the Editor:
What does it take to be an effective juvenile court judge in Tennessee?
First, in my opinion, would be the ability to know, understand, and apply the laws that impact juveniles and their families or guardians.
Second, that person must have the demeanor to be a judge. He or she must recognize that the position is not based upon winning a popularity contest; or being a “glad-hander” at a community pancake breakfast, for example; or having the most and largest political ads in the local press; or having the most yard signs to the point their number appears to exceed the number of wild onions in a person’s lawn. That candidate must recognize the seriousness of the office and conduct him or herself accordingly.
Third, he or she must have outstanding credentials.
In my judgment, Mr. David Dunkirk exceeds these qualifications.
David’s legal experience began with his 1986 acceptance into the California Bar, a state known for its high standards of admission. He since has also been legally recognized into the practice in Washington state and Tennessee.
Presently, Mr. Dunkirk has standing as a Rule 31 mediator with the Tennessee Supreme Court. In addition to private mediations, he has volunteered as a mediator for the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program for Community Mediation Services of Anderson County. David’s legal experience also includes cases involving product liability, medical malpractice, and labor relations. He has also accepted several appointments to represent parents who are under the scrutiny of the Department of Children’s Services.
One of Mr. Dunkirk’s achievements has been attaining certification and appointment as a “Guardian ad litem” for the Tennessee juvenile court system. These individuals are chosen for children who have been removed or could potentially be removed from their families due to violations of state law. One would suspect that the children who were recently removed from their homes and became wards of Child Protective Services because their parents were caught cooking meth in their kitchen would be prime candidates needing “Guardian ad litem” services. In this case, the Juvenile Court judge must be aware of all of the circumstances leading to a judgment that respects the law, encourages and strengthens the family unit, and protects emotionally and physically the minors involved. David Dunkirk possesses these attributes.
Mr. Dunkirk was among the first Oak Ridgers I met when I moved here some 10 years ago. He is of a quiet but formidable nature. In many ways, his demeanor and deportment remind me of a man whom I had the pleasure of assisting in the completion of several social projects upon his retirement to Richmond, Virginia: Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell. David is a family man, very active in his church, has above average musical talents in the singing and guitar playing departments, shares his abilities with several local choral groups, and can be found working the hustings on behalf of various community organizations.
Cumulatively, this is why I support David Dunkirk for Anderson County Juvenile Court judge: a candidate who can administer justice with mercy.
Gene R. Dunaway