Candidate Tillman Payne Wants to Change Culture of the Court

Tillman W. Payne, III Photo submitted

From Tribune Staff

NASHVILLE, TN — Retired Air Force Lt. Colonel and attorney, Tillman W. Payne, III will seek the office of General Sessions Judge – Division X in the May 1, 2018 election.

Tillman, a native of Tennessee who has made Nashville his home for over twenty years, earned his B.S. from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and Masters in Human Relations (MHR) from the University of Oklahoma. He earned his Law degree from the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University in Arlington VA.

Payne told the Tribune he is running for judge to change the culture of the court. He believes “the court should be a place where everyone should have an opportunity to receive the assistance they need to move on with their life.”

“I’ve been practicing law for almost 20 years across middle Tennessee,” Tillman said. “Part of that time I was an assistant public defender working with people who didn’t always get the best justice because they were poor, had mental health issues, substance abuse problems or had other issues that made them vulnerable.  When many of my clients went to court, there were no programs available to help them get their lives back on track or they were going before a judge that didn’t recognize the value or importance of these programs.”

Payne also said he will challenge the court to be more responsive to the needs the individuals appearing before the Bench and changes are needed. “Our Criminal Justice System is in need of many reforms and we need Judges on the bench willing to do the hard work to find the right ways to improve the system.  I believe that the inability to pay fines and court costs should not dictate the quality of justice a person receives.”

The retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel also said he will emphasize a more effective court experience. “I want to reduce the amount of time individuals spend in court. It can be a real challenge for people to have to miss a full day of work, adjust childcare and battle transportation issues only to not have their matter resolved in an efficient way. I would work to ensure the court continues to improve ‘One Stop” services so individuals will leave with all of the information and contacts necessary to satisfy their obligations to the court, clear their record, or otherwise fully resolve their matter. The citizens of Davidson County deserve a judge that will be fair, impartial, and efficient.”

“I believe in restorative justice concepts such as those currently in place like Mending Hearts, Drug Court and Veterans Court,” Payne continued. “I believe we need judges that will embrace these concepts and lead in creating ways to improve our criminal justice system both in protecting victims and helping people get their lives back on track. I am committed to compassionate and restorative justice for all.”

Payne, who is a member of the Bethel World Outreach Church, has served in the children’s ministry, as a greeter and usher. He is also the Chairman of Nashville Alumni Chapter Kappa Alpha Psi Guide Right Committee and Advisor to the Kappa Leadership Development League (Kappa League) which mentors young men in the 7th thru 12th grade from both public and private schools in the Nashville Area. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the West Nashville Sports League (WNSL).

His work in the military, government, business and private legal practice is extraordinary.

“I’ve been practicing law almost 20 years and part of that time I was a Public Defender.  I have handled cases from the simple traffic citation to jury trials up to first-degree murder. Specifically, I have extensive experience handling thousands of cases in General Sessions Court. I have also handled cases in Criminal Court, Circuit Court and at the Appellate level. As an experienced trial attorney who has practiced law in both urban and rural counties I understand the various types of cases that come before a General Sessions Court this comprehensive experience has equipped me to be successful Judge.

“In addition, as a former military officer, my principles are grounded in integrity, service, and sacrifice. I have worked with individuals from all walks of life, backgrounds, and nationalities both here in the States and overseas. I believe this experience is important because of the great diversity of our community.

“My wife Kimberly and I currently own several food service stores. Let me pause here and say that my wife, Kimberly is an inspiring, fantastic businesswoman who is laser-focused on helping our employees, many who are teenagers succeed. As small business owners, we understand the importance of hard work, sacrifice and the importance of giving back to our community.”

Payne said his life has prepared him for a position on the bench.

“My parents, Tennessee State University graduates, career public school educators and community leaders instilled in me and my siblings a passion for community service.  My oldest sister is a career public school educator; my brother is an Investigations Coordinator for the Department of Children’s Services and my youngest sister is a retired Lieutenant Colonel Army Nurse who works in the Public School system in Norfolk Virginia. I have spent almost my entire career serving my community and I believe being a Judge is the best way for me to continue my service. As a judge I would be able to directly impact the unfairness and inefficiencies of the court while working to improve treatment of both victims and those accused. Overall, I believe that my extensive legal experience, military background, experience working with diverse groups of people and these important guiding principles of faith, service to others, and sacrifice will serve me well as judge committed to justice, integrity, impartiality and fairness. My family and background is focused on service to others. I am committed to being a servant leader for all of Davidson County.”

When asked about mass incarceration Payne said the criminal justice system has to be more conscientious of the needs of victims and especially individuals accused of non-violent crimes.

“Restorative Justice Concepts help address mass incarceration. As a General Sessions Judge I would embrace input from the victim(s) to ensure that they are protected and restored to a place of wholeness. In addition I am committed to embracing programs that help the accused return to a productive place in society. Many repeat offenders are battling various mental health issues that unfortunately, often go unaddressed.  I have seen many people face Judges who either did not believe in alternative programs that help address issues such as drug addiction or alcohol abuse or such programs were not available. I think we should not default to incarceration for non-violent offenses that may be rooted in systemic mental issues or addictions that require medical treatment.  As a General Sessions Judge, when appropriate, I would first consider rehabilitation programs that would help non-violent offenders address these root issues.”

He also told the Tribune he believes he can you positively affect individuals, families and the community as a General Sessions Judge.

“As a General Sessions Judge I will lead on and off the bench to help rebuild the integrity and advance the effectiveness of the Division X Court.  I am committed as Judge to continue working on restorative justice opportunities that address systemic issues adversely affecting vulnerable communities.  I believe we must do all we can to make victims whole while ensuring that individuals who have paid their debt to society are also restored so they too can become contributing citizens in the community.”

“I invite the Nashville community to join our team,” Tillman, who officially kicked-off his campaign last week said. “We are committed to compassionate and restorative justice for all and with your support we can spread this message to every part of the county. I invite you to visit my website I am asking for your vote because we need leadership on the bench focused on truly serving all people of Davidson County.

The primary election in Davidson County takes place Tuesday, May 1. 2018. Residents must register by April 2, 2018 to be eligible to vote.

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