Candidates Johnson, Coffee

How many judicial candidates – or judges – can say they’ve carried the torch at the Olympic games, served honorably in the Marine Corps, driven a tow truck drive, or were an EMT and firefighter? Probably none.

But Christian Johnson, who is running for General Sessions Judge Division 6 can.

After his varied early career, the father of four moved his family to Memphis and went to Southwest Community College. He then went on to U of M and got his law degree there and became an attorney and a paralegal. “I graduated at the top of my class,” Johnson told members of the Midtown Republican club at the monthly meeting.

With his eclectic background he feels “I will bring empathy and understanding to the bench. And that’s his motto: “A vote for Christian Johnson is a vote for integrity, honesty and honoring the law.”

He’s on Facebook at for judge. His opponent is Lonnie Thompson.

“Criminal Court judges are one of the most important votes you’ll make,” says Judge Lee Coffee. “They have a bigger effect on the community than the top of the ballot. Please don’t stop (voting) at the top. It’s the judges who will make the decisions that have the most impact on the community.”

He should know. He’s been Criminal Court Judge Division 7 since his election in 2006.

“I graduated from Harvard Law,” Coffee says, after getting his BA at Northwestern. “I practiced law for 32 years.” He was also in the Shelby County Public Defender’s office; the District Attorney’s office; and the U.S. attorney’s office, Western District of Tennessee. “I ran for judge because I had nothing to lose and because I felt I was very qualified.”

Judge Coffee says he would like to see stricter qualifications for judges because “some have no idea what they are doing. To run you have to be 30 years old, been in the state of Tennessee five years, this city for one year and be licensed to practice law. I think it should be tougher.”

In his court he deals with murders and capital offenses. “I know how to blend mercy with justice. I have demonstrated competence,” he says.

“My opponent has never been in Criminal Court,” Judge Coffee says.

Judge Coffee has received the endorsement of Shelby GOP. His opponent is Kenya Brooks. His website is

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