Newly elected Knox County Chancellor Clarence "Eddie" Pridemore reversed himself - before his first day on the bench.
WBIR 10News and the Knoxville News Sentinel last week filed a formal Rule 30 request, seeking permission to have cameras in Pridemore's courtroom for Wednesday's docket. The chancellor directed Clerk and Master Howard Hogan, who handles the court's paperwork, to send the media an unsigned order, refusing the request.
Knoxville attorney Rick Hollow, on behalf of the two media outlets, filed an objection on Tuesday that said Pridemore did not follow the requirements of Rule 30.
For example, Hollow noted, he did not sign the order or issue it himself. He also didn't hold an evidentiary hearing, which would require him to prove why his objection is valid.
On Wednesday morning, a signed order was taped on the door to Pridemore's courtroom. It said cameras were allowed in, but didn't say why he changed his mind.
"All we were saying is that whatever you do – do please follow the law," Hollow said.
Pridemore, a 39-year-old Republican, defeated long-time Democrat 16-year incumbent Daryl Fansler for the 6th Judicial District Chancery Court, Part II seat in the August election. He received 56.6 percent of the vote to Fansler's 43.4 percent.
He told WBIR that his first day went "great."
"Your first day on the job is preparing for your first day on the job, so I spent Sunday and yesterday reviewing the files and previous motions . . . and preparing for the cases today," he said Wednesday morning after hearing a handful of cases.
Pridemore has never practiced in Knox County Chancery Court and spent most of his past four years focusing on Claiborne, Campbell and Union counties. Still, he said that as an attorney he had only part-time help and oversaw much of the work himself, filing his own briefs and appeals, and appearing in courtrooms and before judges and juries "four to five times a week."
"I have a lot of experience hands on with the legal profession and dealing with people. And I think being a judge is a lot more than just reading the law – it's dealing with people," said Pridemore, adding that he also spent years working with the public when he sold real estate. "You have to have the patience and temperament to deal with them."
To serve as chancellor, once must be a licensed attorney, be 30 years old, have five years residency in Tennessee and one year in the judicial district or county.
The Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts also provides a four-day "judicial academy" for newly elected judges, which Pridemore attended.
The new chancellor said he's aware of his detractors, but that he'll win folks over by running an efficient courtroom and by not falling behind.
"People who come to court don't want to wait a year to have their case decided or two years to get a divorce," he said.
He'll also spend much of his time outside of the office catching up on cases, he added.