Gerald L. Melton, Public Defender for the 16th Judicial District, has officially announced his candidacy for re-election.
The 16th Judicial District is comprised of Rutherford and Cannon Counties. He will be a candidate in the Republican Primary to be held in May of 2022. The public defender is responsible for representing indigent persons who are accused of committing criminal offenses.
As public defender, Melton maintains an active personal caseload and supervises the work of 13 assistant public defenders.
Melton's undergraduate degree is from Middle Tennessee State University and his law degree is from the University of Tennessee. He trained in capital case defenses and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.
In addition to the public defender's obligations in the local courts and appellate courts, the job requires Melton to be the chief administrative officer for the local public defender's office. In that capacity, the public defender makes personnel decisions, budget decisions and has other administrative responsibilities attendant to running the local office.
Melton's goal has been to run the office "in accordance with sound business practices and the public trust." He views the obligations of the position with a broad vision. While the primary role of the of the public defender is to represent the interests of the person immediately before the court, Melton believes that performing that duty also assures the continued viability of the Constitutional rights of all persons.
“Defending the rights of one person,” Melton said, “protects the public against the use of unwarranted governmental power.” He added, "This task is more important today than ever before."
Melton also served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Tennessee Bar Association and as a member of the House of Delegates of the Tennessee Bar Association. He has been Continuing Legal Education Coordinator for the Public Defenders Conference of Tennessee and has served as an advisor to the Tennessee General Assembly on matters of criminal law and procedure as a member of the Tennessee Sentencing Commission.
He served on Governor Haslam’s Sentencing and Recidivism Commission, and he has served on the Tennessee Medical Examiners Advisory Board for the State of Tennessee. Melton has also served on the Bench and Bar Relations Committee of the Administrative Office of the Courts. His fellow Public Defenders have selected him President of the District Public defender's Conference on two separate occasions.
Mr. Melton is an adjunct instructor in the Criminal Justice Department at Middle Tennessee State University, where he has taught criminal law for several years.
Mr. Melton is married to Marcia Garrett Melton, who is a professional educator in the Cannon County School System.
"It is with great appreciation that I have served as your Public Defender for several years, seeking to fulfill this public service obligation while at the same time maintaining a balance of faith, family and friends. I humbly ask for your support as I seek the Republican Party nomination in May," Melton said.