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Manuel announces candidacy for General Sessions Judge

Robert “Mitch” Manuel

From Staff Reports

Robert “Mitch” Manuel has announced his candidacy for Unicoi County General Sessions Judge, currently held by Judge David R. Shults, who will be retiring following the expiration of his term on Aug. 31, 2022.

Manuel is a 1999 graduate of Unicoi County High School with honors, who went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from ETSU in 2003.  He earned his Juris Doctorate from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, graduating in 2006.

Since becoming licensed to practice law in Tennessee, Manuel has proudly served the legal needs of Unicoi County residents as an attorney for over 14 years, with offices in downtown Erwin, where he and his wife, Attorney Stana Donnelly, practiced with his father, Attorney William Robert “Bob” Manuel, until his passing in 2011.

Manuel is a familiar face throughout the community, serving on various boards, including the board of directors for the Clinchfield Federal Credit Union, where he currently serves as vice-chairman. In addition, he is treasurer of the Unicoi Foundation for Healthcare, Inc.  He is also a former president of the Unicoi County Rotary Club (2009-2010), and currently treasurer of the Unicoi County Bar Association.  He is also a member of the American Bar Association, as well as the Tennessee Bar Association.

He has over 14 years of experience helping the citizens of Unicoi County in the areas of estate planning, criminal defense, domestic matters, civil litigation, probate matters, collection matters, traffic violations and juvenile matters, all of which encompasses the entirety of the Court’s jurisdiction.  He is an experienced litigator and trial attorney, having represented parties in multiple jury trials, as well as appeals to the Court of Criminal Appeals in Knoxville.  He has served as conservator and guardian-ad-litem for multiple disabled individuals, including veterans.  Since 2011, Manuel has also served as the delinquent tax attorney for both Unicoi County and the Town of Erwin.  He has extensive experience in the areas of Social Security Disability/SSA, as well as real estate transactions. Throughout his practice he has served as an appointed attorney for the court, defending those who didn’t have the financial means to retain their own counsel.

“I’ve spent my entire career of 14 years defending the rights of the citizens of Unicoi County.  Not only do I have the experience and knowledge that we need on the bench, I also have traditional values so desperately needed in today’s ever-changing world,” Manuel said.

Manuel added, “The courtroom is a solemn place, where serious matters are heard.  We need a no non-sense judge, with conservative values and common sense.”

In explaining his desire to serve the citizens of Unicoi County, Manuel stated, “Growing up in Unicoi County and devoting my life to the pursuit of justice, I am committed to our county and all of its people. I am running for judge to serve my community, to ensure everyone is treated fairly and that the law is applied in an impartial and unbiased manner.”

Manuel explained that the position is important to voters. 

“The fact of the matter is, that if a Unicoi County citizen comes into contact with a judge or court during his or her lifetime, odds are significant that it’s going to be a General Sessions judge, as the General Sessions Court has broad jurisdiction, including traffic citations, criminal matters, juvenile, collection matters, evictions, estates/probate, and civil matters,” he said. “Therefore, we need a judge you respect, and one that you can trust to make the right decision…every time.

“If elected, I promise that I will use my experience to execute the duties of general sessions judge by fairly applying the law, with integrity, principle and compassion,” Manuel continued. “I would greatly appreciate your support, your prayers and your vote.”

Manuel and his wife, Stana, reside in Flag Pond.

For more information visit or visit his Facebook page at Manuel For Unicoi County General Sessions Judge. Reach him by email at [email protected]