UPDATED: Judiciary Mourns the Loss of Judge Tim Brock

November 11, 2019

The Tennessee legal community is mourning the loss of Coffee County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Timothy R. Brock, who passed away unexpectedly on Monday, November 11, 2019 while attending a national judicial training in Nevada.  He was 62.

Judge Brock was first elected as a general sessions judge in 1990 and added juvenile court jurisdiction to his duties in 1998. A native of Franklin County, TN, he graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1979 and earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1982. Judge Brock served on the executive committee of the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges for many years and was a frequent presenter at conferences. 

In August 2017, he was awarded the McCain-Abernathy Award by the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges for his exceptional service in advancing juvenile justice. The award is given annually to a judge with juvenile court jurisdiction who demonstrated outstanding service dedicated to the improvement of juvenile justice in Tennessee for the benefit of the children and families served by the state’s juvenile courts.

News of Judge Brock's passing moved quickly through Tennessee's judicial community and prompted a number of tributes from his colleagues on the bench.

“It was a privilege to work with Judge Brock on the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Executive Committee and tackle difficult issues that affect the children and families of Tennessee,” said Henry County Judge Vicki Snyder, president of the Council. “He never shied away from a problem or tough situation which demanded our attention. He always put others first. Tim was a true servant and gave without thought to himself for 29 years as a general sessions and juvenile court judge.”

“Judge Brock, while quiet and unassuming, was an outstanding leader who worked constantly and diligently in our judicial system to improve the lives of children and families in Tennessee,” said Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Jeff Bivins. “He cared deeply about improving the courts and the judicial system as a whole to better serve the citizens of Coffee County and all Tennesseans.  He embraced education and learning, and he was always willing to be a leader in innovation and new approaches to serving people. Judge Brock's untimely death leaves a great void in our judicial family."  

Judge Brock was a mentor for many judges.

“Tim was the judge that judges looked to for advice, counsel and always perspective,” said Judge Jeff Rader, a General Sessions and Juvenile Judge in Sevier County. “He was a calm and thoughtful person who cared about the people he served as well as those around him. I often asked him for help on particularly difficult issues and his thoughts were always spot on. He will be missed by the entire judiciary. We will keep his family in our prayers.”

In addition to his service to the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Judge Brock served in leadership roles for the Tennessee General Sessions Judges Conference, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and the Tennessee Judicial Opioid Initiative, which he co-chaired.

“Tim was always ready with good insight and advice. His opinion mattered when we were dealing with difficult issues. He was always smiling and had a good word for you and all his colleagues,” said Shelby County Juvenile Judge Dan Michael. “I am saddened by his passing. Tennessee has lost a good man and a great Judge. My heart goes out to his family and friends.”

Judge Brock also presided over the Coffee County Drug Recovery Court, the Coffee County Mental Health Court, the Coffee County Family Treatment Court, the Coffee County Juvenile Recovery Court, and the Coffee County Safe Baby Court. His involvement with the recovery courts in Coffee County dates back to their founding in 2005. He is a former member of the Tennessee State Drug Recovery Court Advisory Board and has actively served on multiple committees for the Administrative Office of the Courts. The Coffee County Family Treatment Court, which held its first graduation earlier this month, is the first and only one in the state of Tennessee. Judge Brock was also one of the state’s first Safe Baby Court judges, and he was a leader in expanding safe baby courts to 11 other counties in the state.

“Judge Brock’s greatest gift to the judiciary and to the citizens he served was his work in the area of recovery courts,” Judge Snyder said. “His tireless efforts will long be remembered by those who left his recovery courts different people than when they first met him. Nothing brought him greater joy than to see a person understand the true gift of recovery, except his children and grandchildren. Even though I never had the privilege to meet them, I feel like I know them because of the many stories I heard about them and the pictures I’ve seen on multiple occasions. I am a better person and judge for having known and been a friend to Judge Tim Brock. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

While Judge Brock’s years of service and age made him eligible for retirement, he stayed on because of his work with recovery courts.

“I recently asked Judge Brock why he didn’t retire and he said it was because of his responsibility to the recovery courts, especially during this current crisis,” said Judge Dennis Humphrey, a General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge in Roane County. “I think that says it all.”

Judge Brock was preceded in death by his parents, Jimmy Ray and Virginia McKown Brock, and his nephew, Craig McKown Brock. He is survived by three children; sons Adam Brock (Lauren) of Chattanooga, Matthew Brock (Jill) of Spring Hill, TN, and daughter Sarah Kathryn (Katye) Bodak (Jason) of Knoxville; brother Edward Brock (Sherry) of Cowan, TN, sisters Ruth Brock Gardner of Louisville, KY, and Kathleen Brock Huntsberry (Charles) of Gallatin, TN; his two beloved granddaughters Talia and Josephine Brock of Spring Hill, TN; Donna Bryant Brock of Tullahoma, mother of his children, and sweetheart partner, Mary Mealer of Tullahoma.

A lifelong supporter of his alma mater, Judge Brock was a long-time season ticket holder for the University of Tennessee football and basketball programs. He was an avid reader with a passion for history, but nothing made him happier than traveling with his children and grandchildren, especially to Disney World.

Pallbearers will be Edward Brock, Steven Foreman, Phil Barnes, Bob McCall, Roger Bean, the Honorable Jere Ledsinger, Stanley Bean, Clint Mealer, and Frank Brock. Honorary pallbearers will be graduates of the Coffee County Recovery Courts.

Visitation with the family will be at Central Funeral Home in Manchester, TN Saturday, November 16, 2019 from 2:00-6:00pm, and a celebration of Judge Brock’s life will be held at the Cowan Fellowship Church in Cowan, TN on Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 2:00pm. The service will be officiated by Mike Lewis with burial in the Cowan Montgomery Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the children ask for your support of and contributions to the:

Coffee County Drug Court Foundation, Mike Lewis, Director, 604 College Street, Manchester, TN 37355

Judge Brock was recently featured on two Tennessee Court Talk podcasts, one of court innovations and the other on the Alliance of Drug Endangered Children. Both are available here - https://www.tncourts.gov/AOC%20Podcasts

REMEMBRANCES AND CONDOLENCES

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"I was a close friend of Tim's in high school in Winchester, Tennessee, from 1973-1975, and I am shocked to hear of his unexpected death.  All that I've read about his goodness as a Judge and as a human being is exactly what he was way back then, and I shall cherish those memories for the rest of my life. My deepest sympathy to his family."

- Steven Crider, Franklin County High School Friend

"Hired Tim out of law school. Potentially a great trial lawyer. I was disappointed when he decided to be a Judge. I thought we lost a potentially good trial lawyer, but we got a great Judge. He cared for the people who came before him.  BTW, a great Vols fan."

- Donald Ray,  Prior Employer

"Tim had a huge impact on my life as a judge.  He was the "thinker" in our group of juvenile court judges, and had an outsize impact on every aspect of juvenile law.  He was involved in every significant legislative endeavor regarding juvenile law in the past several years, and was a pioneer in the administration of recovery courts.  He was so active in the recovery court area because he genuinely cared for the participants in those courts; he wanted them to succeed in overcoming their addictions and being able to lead normal, successful lives.  He was the model for judicial behavior, and served as an example of all judges to emulate.  He set the bar high.  The state has lost a significant resource, the judiciary has lost a supremely effective member, Coffee County has lost a leading citizen, and we all have lost a friend and companion.  His like shall never be seen again.  I shall miss him dearly."

- Andy Brigham, Stewart County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge

"I remember Tim fondly from UT Law School. He was a good student and athlete, but I mostly recall that he was a great guy. My condolences to his family."

- Jerry Martin, Attorney

"Judge Brock had an excellent judicial temperament.  He was thoughtful and courteous each time I was in his court. I am greatly saddened to hear of his passing."

- Tom Norris, Attorney

"Coffee County has lost an excellent Judge and a good man. He will be missed. My condolences are extended to Mary and his children, Adam, Matthew and Katie."

- Bill Rieder, Attorney and Friend

"Some of my first trials, right out of law school ('92-'93), were before Tim Brock.  Just 10 years older than I, I looked up to him as a role model in the legal community.  He was very smart and fair and always seemed to know what to do on the bench.  He truly had a vision early in his career as to how the judiciary in TN should evolve.  He will be sorely missed."

- Brook Fox, Senior Litigation Attorney for Metro Nashville

"Tim Brock was a man of integrity, fairness and compassion. I hold him in great respect.

He was the first lawyer judge elected to serve as General Sessions Judge in Coffee County, as ushered out the antiquated layman judge era.

Our judicial community will miss him, but his influence will live on through the drug court, and mental health programs."

- Rick L. Moore, Lawyer

"I recall the day that I met Judge Brock for the first time; I came to speak to the executive committee of the TCJFCJ about System of Care and children's mental health. His first question was if I could get the mental health providers to do what he needed them to do. From that moment on I was determined to have him be a champion for children's mental health. He became just that. In the years following I had the honor of working with him to bring about change in the lives of the youth and their families that came before his bench. It is hard for me to express how much I will truly miss him and all the good work that he has done for the children, youth, and families of this state. He knew our children and youth weren't islands and to effect real change you had to treat the whole family. He knew it took a village to raise our children and he promoted the re-institution of that village through expanding the programs he could bring to his community so that people could get what they needed. He opened up space to providers so families could get what they needed before they left the building. I am sending my prayers to his family, friends, staff, and community with the hope that everyone knows how much he truly cared about rebuilding the village Tennessee so desperately needs."

- Keri Virgo, Director, System of Care Across Tennessee, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

"Judge Brock’s impact on individuals and families struggling with all the issues connected to substance abuse and mental health disorders cannot be understated.  He will be truly missed, but the legacy he left behind in Coffee County and throughout Tennessee will forever be present.  I am eternally grateful that he took me under his wing and shared his knowledge with me. Thoughts and prayers to his Coffee County Court family, his Coffee County Recovery Court family and his family who he spoke of often with such love and pride."

- Stacy Lynch, Attorney/Magistrate Coffee County Safe Baby Court and Family Treatment Court