A personal note about campaign donations: You can ask any person seeking public office: would they rather have 50 donors who can donate $1,000, or would they rather have 2,000 donors who can donate $25? I would be excited about many donors, even if the donations are a smaller amount. If you feel lead to contribute to my campaign, I would be honored to receive whatever you would like to send. Campaign finance laws say that individuals cannot donate more than $1,600.00 for the primary and $1,600 for the general election, and rest assured that I will not be aware of who donates or how much. Allowing my campaign treasurer to keep track of that information helps me, as a judicial candidate, to avoid even the appearance of bias based on financial contributions!
Leadership / Experience / Commitment
Whether you see him sitting on the bench in court or on one in the dog park, Chuck Cerny is interested in people and loves to hear their stories. That in a nutshell is what makes him a great judge and has guided his career for over two decades – he always makes sure to understand each side of a case as if it were his own before he makes a ruling. This common sense approach to his legal rulings allows both sides to see him as a fair and unbiased judge.
Recovery Court Judge
reduced re-offender rates by over 80%
saving taxpayer dollars by helping participants
avoid incarceration for new offenses
(2011 – present)
Created Knox County Veteran’s Treatment Court
helping criminal justice system involved Veterans.
Hundreds of positive outcomes.
Hundreds of lives changed.
(2013 – present)
24 years on the bench serving the
citizens of Knox County.
hundreds of thousands of criminal cases
thousands of civil cases.
(1998 – present)
- Exploratory committee to create a Mental Health Court
- Board, Tennessee Association of Recovery Court Professionals
- General Sessions Judges Education Committee
- National Association of Drug Court Professionals
- Leukemia and Lymphoma Society “Team in Training” Cycling Coach
- Youth Sunday School Teacher
- “Disciple” Bible study teacher
- Various postions of leadership in the Methodist Church
Bullet points are a great way to convey information quickly, but what do these points mean? Let’s look closer: Recovery Court Judge means that I voluntarily (without extra compensation) lead a “problem solving” court called Recovery Court. It was at one time called “Drug Court”. When a Knox County Criminal Court Judge gave in to his own addiction, and even violated the law, the Criminal Court Judges in Knox County sought out someone to take responsibility for that program. The program was in jeopardy and might have ended because of the failure of the previous Drug Court judge. I was asked to take over the Drug Court about twelve years ago, and now we have about 75 participants. Drug Court or Recovery Court participants go through a five phase program that can take as much as two years. They are obligated to get addiction and mental health treatment, attend twelve step programs, get jobs, pay back any amounts they may have taken from victims, and pay court costs. They often have to leave their living situation and live in a sober living facility. As the Recovery Court Judge, I hold a weekly docket which normally takes from about 1:30 until about 6:30 pm after my regular docket. I receive no additional compensation for this, even though it is over and above my normal responsibilities. I do it because I passionately believe that problem solving courts are the future of criminal justice. Our communities are safer when participants don’t re-offend, taxpayers save money when we don’t have to pay to incarcerate these folks, and of course, they can become productive citizens living wonderful, satisfying lives. It’s extra work, but it’s worth it!
An Interview with Chuck Cerny
Chuck, you have been a Sessions Judge for over twenty three years, you’ve been the drug court judge for over eleven years. Does it ever get old?
Absolutely not! I love what I do every day. But what really keeps me excited about this work is seeing positive changes in people who have been involved in the criminal justice system. Whether it’s a drug court graduate who reunites with their children or family, or someone who approaches me and says that I got them into treatment instead of giving up on them, and what a difference it made, it’s always wonderful to see people turn their lives around. When that happens, I feel like the long hours I spend at work are definitely worth it.
How is Veterans’ Treatment Court similar to Drug Court or Recovery Court, and how is it different?
Veterans’ Treatment Court incorporates volunteer veteran “Mentors”, and the Mentors give veterans additional support and guidance, and they directly improve our success rate. But both of these problem solving courts make our community safer by preventing recidivism, and both programs save tax payer dollars because our participants don’t have to be incarcerated. We started our Veterans’ Treatment Court with one justice system involved veteran, and he has been free of alcohol and drugs for years, and of course he has not re-offended. I am so proud of all of our graduates! And I am proud that Mayor Jacobs and Clerk Mike Hammond have asked me to help get a Mental Health Court started as well. We are in the planning stages right now!
Doesn’t Sessions Court handle civil cases also? Tell us about that.
Civil Sessions is satisfying for me as well. Whether it’s a car wreck, or a contract, or a debt collection case, I have a chance to help people resolve their disputes. When they leave they know, regardless of the result, that their Sessions Judge listened and cared about them as people, and that I worked hard to get to a just and fair ruling.
You seem so passionate about your work. What are you passionate about in your personal life?
I love spending time with my family: my wife of thirty years, my daughter, son, and son-in-law, and our three grandkids. And I love our two Irish Wolfhounds, Boomer and Baxter. Kim and I can be found at the dog park just about every day, and the time I spend with my dogs is always pleasant and relaxing!
After years of running the Recovery Court Program, I was approached by some veterans. They had one veteran who was criminal justice system involved in another county, and he could only remain on probation if he could enter and complete a Veterans’ Treatment Court Program. He had family in Knox County and he wanted to move back here to get away from some bad influences in another city to our west. the judge in that county would agree that he could move away and complete his probation, if he was in a jurisdiction that had a Veterans’ Treatment Court. I started a Veterans’ Treatment Court to help one criminal justice system involved veteran. Veterans’ Treatment Court is another type of problem solving court, and it helps veterans with addiction and mental health treatment, and helps them get their lives back on track. Often they have to overcome significant mental and physical trauma that occurred as a result of their military service. We now have about 15 veterans, and they are all doing great! Since I have been leading the Recovery Court and the Veterans’ Treatment Court, we have had hundreds of graduates who have gone on to satisfying, productive lives, and they have not been back through the criminal justice system. As a result of our success, I am currently on a committee to start a Mental Health Court as well!
Get In Touch
Committee to Re-Elect Chuck Cerny
607 Market St.
Knoxville, TN 37902