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Supreme Court narrows AG applicants to 3

(Administrative Office of the Courts news release)
The Tennessee Supreme Court has narrowed the list of applicants for state attorney general and reporter from 14 to three finalists who have been invited back for second interviews with the court, Chief Justice William M. Barker said Monday.

The three finalists for the position are Margaret L. Behm, a Nashville attorney; Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Gov. Phil Bredesen’s legal counsel; and Joseph E. (Jef) Feibelman, a Memphis attorney.

 “The caliber of those who applied made this a very difficult decision for the court,” Barker said.  “We carefully reviewed the 14 applications, conducted a public hearing and interviewed each of the applicants. The court had a challenging task because there were so many outstanding candidates.”

The second round of interviews is necessary to “ensure that Tennessee has the most qualified attorney general possible,” he said. Barker said until a final decision is made, the court has complete confidence in Acting Attorney General Michael E. Moore, who was appointed by the court to serve until a replacement is selected for former Attorney General Paul Summers.

 Behm, 55, earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee, where she graduated with High Honors. She was a Dean’s List graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. She worked for Legal Services of Middle Tennessee from 1976-1980 before entering private practice. She also has been an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt Law School.

Cooper, 49, earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University, where he graduated Magna cum laude, and his law degree from Yale Law School. He has served as legal counsel to the governor since 2003 and also is an adjunct faculty member at Vanderbilt Law School. He was in the private practice of law for 19 years.

Feibelman, 62, earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University, graduating cum laude. He also graduated from Yale Law School where he was a member of the appellate and trial moot court teams. He served as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Bailey Brown before entering the private practice of law in 1970.

Under the Tennessee Constitution, the attorney general, who earns $150,000, is appointed by the Supreme Court. Duties of the attorney general include representing the state in civil litigation and prosecuting criminal cases in the appellate courts.  The attorney general also provides legal advice to the governor, state agencies and the Tennessee General Assembly.

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