Varonica Cooper wins Memphis Municipal Court Judge, Division 2

By , Daily Memphian Updated: November 09, 2022 1:56 AM CT | Published: November 09, 2022 12:02 AM CT
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Varonica Cooper has been elected as the next Division 2 Judge of the Memphis Municipal Court, replacing Juvenile Court Judge Tarik Sugarmon.

“We’re excited,” Cooper said when early and absentee results rolled in. “My family worked hard, and particularly my husband, and we’re excited to get to work for the people of Memphis.”

The posts: Local voters talk Election Day

With 130 of 142 Shelby County precincts reporting as of about 11:29 p.m., the totals were as follows:

Sugarmon resigned when he was elected to juvenile court during the Aug. 4 general election.

City Court is not a court of record. It hears primarily traffic violations and other alleged violations of city ordinances. Races for the three divisions of city court are on the city ballot every eight years with the next regularly scheduled election in 2027.

<strong>Varonica R. Cooper</strong>

Varonica R. Cooper

Cooper is an attorney at the Cooper Law Firm. She has been in private practice for 25 years. Prior to moving to Memphis, she worked as an entertainment attorney. She is a former professor at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. Cooper also ran for Shelby County General Sessions Division 5 Judge during the general election Aug. 4, but she was defeated by Betty Thomas Moore.

Cooper said she will focus on reckless driving and drag racing. 

“There’s a lot of concern about the reckless driving and the donuts and the drag racing and that kind of thing,” Cooper said. “And I’d like to see what we can figure out working on those things.”

Election Day remains quiet in Shelby County

Cooper ran against eight other candidates in the special election for Division 2 Judge of the Memphis Municipal Court: 

Latonya Burrow is currently an attorney at the Burrow Law Firm. She has been a licensed attorney for nearly 30 years. She has also worked as Chief Ethics Officer for the city of Memphis and as an assistant public defender working in re-entry. Burrow was a 2014 candidate for the Shelby County Criminal Court Division 3 but was defeated by incumbent Judge J. Robert Carter, who is now retired. 

John Cameron has been an Environmental Court referee for Shelby County since 2007. He was appointed by Judge Larry Potter, former Environmental Court Judge for Shelby County General Sessions Court Division 14. This was Cameron’s first time running for office. Cameron said he would have focused on traffic offenses that most affect public safety, including speeding through school or residential zones and distracted driving. 

Memphis Election Day answers questions away from national spotlight

Lynnette Hall-Lewis is a senior human resources manager for the City of Memphis. Formerly, she was a Senior Assistant City Attorney for Memphis. She has more than 30 years of legal experience and has practiced law in Memphis for 17 years. Prior to moving to Memphis, she served as the Vice Chair of the State of Louisiana Judiciary Commission, which recommends discipline for Judges and Justices for misconduct or failure to perform duties. This was Hall-Lewis’ first run for office. Hall-Lewis said she would have focused on asking the City Council for investments in technology and would have held more court hearings via Zoom. She also said she would have liked to hold pop-up courts in libraries and community centers in other communities in Memphis. 

LaTrena Ingram has been a practicing attorney for more than 25 years. She is former chief of staff for Congressman Harold Ford Sr. and is the former president of the Ben. F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association. Previously, Ingram ran for Memphis Municipal Court Division 1 in 2019 but was defeated by Teresa Jones, who died from cancer Jan. 2, 2021. Ingram said one of her focuses would have been holding weekend and evening court hearings for people who cannot afford to take off work.

William Larsha Jr. has been a Senior Assistant City Attorney for 22 years. He has 32 years of experience practicing law. Larsha also ran for Shelby County General Sessions Court Division 3 Judge in the general election Aug. 4 but was defeated by Danielle Mitchell Sims. Larsha said he would have focused on properly applying the law to each case and treating everyone fairly. 

Christine Stephens is a solo practitioner who owns her own law firm. She has more than 20 years of experience practicing law. Previously, she was a partner at Apperson Crump, PLC. This was Stephens’ first run for office. Stephens said she would have focused on safety and safe streets. 

Ballot Basics: Election Day Nov. 8, 2022

Carolyn Watkins served as Division 2 judge of the Memphis Municipal Court since Sugarmon’s resignation. She was appointed by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and confirmed by the Memphis City Council. She formerly served as appointed judge for Division 1 of the Memphis Municipal Court between May 17, 2021 and September 1, 2022. The seat was previously occupied by Teresa Jones, who died from cancer Jan 2, 2021. Watkins ran for re-election during the Aug. 4 special general election but lost to Kenya Hooks. Watkins is a former administrator for the Shelby County Office of Equal Opportunity Compliance and a former Assistant Public Defender for the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office. Watkins said she would have focused on improving technology in the court and staggering hearings to keep crowding at bay. 

Patience “Missy” Branham is a defense attorney. Previously, she was an Assistant District Attorney for the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office for 32 years. She has practiced criminal law for nearly 40 years. She also ran for Shelby County General Sessions Court Division 10 Judge during the Aug. 4 general elections but was defeated by Greg Gilbert. 


Division 2 Judge of the Memphis Municipal Court Varonica Cooper
Julia Baker

Julia Baker

Julia Baker covers criminal justice for The Daily Memphian. A lifelong Memphian, Julia graduated from the University of Memphis in 2021. Other publications and organizations she has written for include Chalkbeat, Memphis Flyer, Memphis Parent magazine and Memphis magazine.


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