Atty. Scott Tift

From Staff Reports

NASHVILLE, TN — A partner at the law firm founded by George “Citizen” Barrett is campaigning for the Democratic nomination to be a Davidson County judge.

Scott Tift considers Barrett his mentor, having worked with him on Civil Rights causes such as challenging the voter photo ID law and redrawing Metro Council district lines.

“For the last seven years of his life, I was by his side … learning how Citizen Barrett fought for people on issues from free speech to voting rights,” Tift said.

Tift is running for the position retired Chancellor Carol McCoy held. The Davidson County primary is May 1. Election Day is Aug. 2.

Barrett litigated desegregation of Tennessee state universities and recruited Tift to his firm from Bass, Berry & Sims where Tift represented people and businesses in disputes over contracts, real estate, zoning and arbitration.

With Barrett, Tift came to “understand the mentality of how can things be resolved,” he said. “An important facet of a judge’s mentality is not making the case more acrimonious than it needs to be and being there for whatever dispute that needs to be resolved … That’s a very important aspect of George’s legacy and something he did often.” It’s knowing the right thing to do and making things happen in an amicable, collaborative way.

Tift has: successfully defended individuals’ First Amendment rights to free speech and religion; recovered unpaid wages for thousands of employees; fought discrimination in the workplace; and represented unionized workers.

“It’s important to have someone on the bench who’s fought for civil rights and is dedicated to working hard,” Tift said. Davidson County’s Chancery Court “is where individuals go when they’ve got a complaint against the government.” It’s one of the courts where, for example, Rutherford County’s now-former sheriff faced justice.

Tift chairs the Conexión Américas Board of Directors, the non-profit organization providing services to build a welcoming community here for Latino families.

Growing up in Macon, Ga., his parents were engaged in their community and, by example, instilled in him an affinity for public service. It’s why he wants to be a chancellor presiding over a court of equity based on the English system in which chancellors act as the “King’s conscience.” Chancery Court judges are chancellors who seek equitable remedies in civil cases, including state constitutional issues, contract disputes, employment disputes, construction disputes, state tax disputes, and applications for injunctions. Chancellors hear appeals of local government actions, including appeals from boards, commissions, and state departments of Labor and Workforce, TennCare, Commerce & Insurance, and others.

Tift’s wife, Nesrin, is a partner at Bass, Berry & Sims. They live in East Nashville, where they’re raising sons, age 4 and 6. Their free time’s at little league, youth soccer, the YMCA, and wherever the boys can play.

Scott graduated summa cum laude from Columbia University. He then worked for: Howard Dean’s presidential campaign; former President Bill Clinton; and then went to Vanderbilt University Law School where he met his wife.

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