Scott Tift, a Vanderbilt trained attorney said he is running for Chancery Court Judge because, “I believe our civil court system should include judges who have represented people in civil rights cases. As a civil rights lawyer, I am uniquely prepared to treat all parties fairly, regardless of their status, their resources, or their backgrounds.”
Tift graduated with top honors from Columbia University (summa cum laude) and from Vanderbilt University Law School (Order of the Coif). He is a currently a partner at Barrett, Johnston, Martin & Garrison, LLC. He has represented individual people in many types of civil litigation. Among these cases, Scott has successfully defended individuals’ First Amendment rights to free speech and religion, successfully recovered unpaid wages for thousands of employees, and has regularly represented unionized workers. Prior to joining Barrett Johnston, Scott practiced law as an associate at Bass, Berry, & Sims, PLC., representing individuals, small businesses, and large businesses in a wide array of civil litigation, including contract disputes, real estate disputes, zoning disputes, and arbitrations.
In the community, Scott serves on the Board of Directors of Conexión Américas, where he is currently the Chair of the Board. Throughout his time at Conexión Américas, Scott has regularly been inspired by the stories of Nashville’s newest neighbors. After graduating from Columbia Scott worked for the presidential campaign of former Vermont Governor, Howard Dean, and worked for former President Bill Clinton. Scott then attended law school at Vanderbilt University Law School, where he graduated as a member of the Order of the Coif. Scott is married to Nesrin Tift, a partner at Bass, Berry & Sims. They have two children, Isaac (six years old) and Arthur (four years old). The family resides in East Nashville, where they spend most of their free time at little league, youth soccer, the Margaret Maddox YMCA, and anywhere else where Isaac and Arthur can run, jump, swing, and play.
Scott’s parents’ example as engaged members of the community instilled in him the lifelong commitment to serve the community and he credits that sense of purpose with motivating him to seek Davidson County’s support to serve as a judge.
“I grew up in Macon, Georgia in a family committed to public service, from my grandmother’s devoted service to her church’s clothing pantry, to my mother’s weekly shifts at a free and reduced cost medical clinic, to my father’s regular volunteer work with various local non-profits.” Tift explained. “From an early age, my family instilled in me a drive to public service that has fueled my work ever since. model of service, witnessed throughout my childhood, ingrained in me a lifelong dedication to service, which has guided me at every step of my life to date, and which guides me now to seek the support of the people of Nashville to serve as a Chancery Court Judge.”
Scott went on to say his Legal Career has prepared him to be a thoughtful and prepared jurist. “A few years into my legal career, George “Citizen” Barrett recruited me to join his civil rights law firm. In the years since then, I have represented people every day in civil rights matters of all sorts. I have represented voters who were denied the right to vote, citizens who were denied their right to free speech, workers who were denied their right to be treated equally at work, and employees who were denied their right to be paid for their work. Moreover, during the early part of my career at Bass, Berry, & Sims, I represented individuals and businesses on a wide array of other civil issues. Given that the Chancery Court oversees Tennessee civil rights cases and challenges to governments actions, among other things, my civil rights trial expertise, as well as my experience representing actual people whose civil rights have been violated, makes me uniquely prepared to serve as a Chancery Court Judge and to serve over a court where all parties will be treated fairly and respectfully.”
Tift told the Tribune he will concentrate on three issues in his campaign and on the bench if elected.
“I am running for Chancery Court judge because I believe my experience representing people in civil rights cases makes me well suited to preside over a court where all parties will be treated fairly, compassionately, and respectfully. If elected, my courtroom will be one where the law and the facts determine who prevails, but where every party will be treated with the respect and dignity that everyone deserves from the judicial system.
“Additionally, our judicial system should be as transparent as possible, so that the public can be informed on the workings of the judicial branch. I am committed to working with my colleagues on the bench and with the Administrative Office of the Courts to ensure that we continue to make court records increasingly accessible to the public.
“Lastly, I am committed to running an efficient court, meaning that I am committed to working long hours to ensure that decisions are reached expeditiously. No party should have to wait many months or even over a year for a court to reach a decision during the course of a lawsuit. Through my work ethic, energy, and belief in the importance of efficient courts, I will ensure that my court is consistently prompt with all types of rulings.”
Although he is running to serve in the civil courts, Tift went on to talk about mass incarceration an issue that has affected many Davidson County families.
“Every member of our judiciary, of our government, and of our community should be concerned about mass incarceration and the profound consequences it has on our community. If elected as a Chancery Court Judge, I will be a civil trial judge, and I will not hear criminal matters that could result in incarceration. However, I am committed if elected to use my time off the bench to help reduce mass incarceration.
“In the past few years, I have been inspired by Judge Rachel Bell’s commitment to regularly convening expungement clinics that publicize and facilitate the process of expunging the records of hundreds of people per clinic. In addition to making the lives of these individuals when they search for jobs, on credit ratings and on background checks. This process reduces mass incarceration by removing the systemic burdens of life with a record, which then greatly increases the likelihood that individuals will not return to the criminal justice system. If elected, I intend to seek Judge Bell’s advice on following in her footsteps or teaming up with her to help many more Nashvillians who have completed their sentences and probations with the process of expunging their records.”
Tift said he will keep his campaign positive. “Our campaign is committed to focusing on the reasons why we are the right choice for Nashville, rather than critiquing our opponents. And so, focusing on our campaign, I am the only candidate in this race whose law practice consists entirely of representing actual people in civil rights and related employment lawsuits. With this background, the voters of Nashville can trust that my courtroom will be a courtroom where every party will be treated fairly and respectfully.”
Scott also said he is campaigning hard to win the trust and the votes of the people of Davidson County. “We have spent the past year traveling to community meetings around the entire county because we believe that every single voter should have the chance to meet the person asking for their vote. Therefore, we encourage every reader who has not had the opportunity to meet me to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to call me at (615) 636-2495. I am committed to connecting with every single person who wants to connect with me, or simply to learn more.”
The primary election is Tuesday, May 1 2018.