McFarland lost to Mike Pemberton in the 2014 race for circuit court judge of the 9th Judicial District.
Afterward, McFarland filed a complaint in Roane County Chancery Court against Pemberton, the Roane County Election Commission and Tennessee Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins.
McFarland appealed to the Supreme Court after two lower courts tossed out his complaint.
The Supreme Court, the state’s court of last resort, agreed to hear the case in March and ordered the parties to file briefs addressing the following questions:
• Did the county election commission have the authority to convene a hearing in response to a citizen’s complaint and determine whether a candidate for the position of Circuit Court Judge for the 9th Judicial District satisfied the constitutional residency requirement set out in article VI, section 4 of the Tennessee Constitution?
• Is the county election commission’s determination that the candidate for Circuit Court Judge for the 9th Judicial District satisfied the constitutional residency requirement a quasi-judicial act that is subject to review pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 27-9-101?
• Did the Court of Appeals err in holding that the plaintiff, although not a party to the petition seeking review pursuant to section 27-9-101, nevertheless qualifies as an aggrieved party for purposes of seeking review pursuant to section 27-9-101?
• Did the Court of Appeals err in holding that the plaintiff’s failure to seek review of the county election commission’s determination pursuant to section 27-9-101 now bars the plaintiff from filing an election contest pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 2-17-101?
McFarland and Pemberton were the only two candidates in the race. Pemberton won by 343 votes, and took office on Sept. 1, 2014.
The 9th Judicial District is made up of Roane, Loudon, Meigs and Morgan counties.
In the election complaint, McFarland alleged Pemberton didn’t meet the one-year residency requirement and wanted the election results voided.
McFarland raised that residency issue frequently during the campaign but didn’t take court action until after he lost the election.
Pemberton steadfastly denied the allegations and insisted he and his family lived in Roane County.
Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood determined McFarland’s complaint was time-barred and dismissed it in October 2014.
The Tennessee Court of Appeals affirmed the decision last November.
“During the time in question, Pemberton, though originally from Roane County, maintained a law office in Knox County, and his kindergarten-age son attended school in Knox County,” the Court of Appeals said.
“He owned a 2,500-square-foot home on the lake in Roane County that he and his family moved into in July 2013.”