City Council Appoints Wilson As Interim
UPDATE: During Thursday’s East Ridge City Council meeting, the council appointed Collegedale Municipal Court Judge Kevin Wilson to serve as interim East Ridge Municipal Court Judge. He is to begin hearing cases next month.
According to the City Charter, Wilson will sit on the bench until the next Municipal Election which is scheduled in August of 2022.
East Ridge Municipal Court Judge J. Cris Helton announced that he will resign his position effective August 1.
According to a press release from the city, Helton cited “health concerns” as his reason for stepping down.
Helton defeated long-time incumbent Arvin Reingold for the judgeship in 2014. Previously he had served as East Ridge City Attorney in the 1990s, before being terminated in July 2007 while he was embroiled in legal issues unrelated to city business.
In recent months, Helton had closed his law practice on Georgia Avenue.
According to a friend of the court, Helton has been absent from the bench more than half the time since reopening after the pandemic some four months ago. Other judges have filled in during his absence, primarily Hamilton County Sessions Court Judge Alex McVeagh.
In February 2017, Helton got in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service. According to a federal lawsuit, Helton owed more than $400,000 in back taxes to the IRS . He subsequently filed for bankruptcy.
In addition, Helton reportedly owes his ex-wife, East Ridge City Councilwoman and State Representative Esther Helton, more than $100,000 in delinquent alimony.
The East Ridge City Charter states under section 6-d, in the case of resignation the council shall appoint a successor to serve until the next regular city election. Officials said any appointment the council makes must be approved by the state of Tennessee’s Administrative Office of the Courts.
The next Municipal Election is slated for August 2022.