Judge J. Brent Bradberry Sworn In as 24th District Circuit Court Judge

December 16, 2021

The Carroll County Courthouse steps will always hold a special memory for Judge J. Brent Bradberry. It’s where he was sworn into office by fellow Carroll Countian and Court of Criminal Appeals Judge John Everett Williams, on October 17, 2021.

“Judge Williams’ office is on the court square. We are friends and both residents of Carroll County, so it was special to both of us. My entire family was there and we were honored to have 40-50 attendees, as well. It was a beautiful afternoon,” said Judge Bradberry.  Presiding Judge Donald E. Parish and retiring Judge C. Creed McGinley were both in attendance, as well as Circuit Court Judge Jeff Parham and General Sessions Judge Tommy Moore from the 27th Judicial District.

He fills the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge McGinley. His first day on the bench, in Hardin County’s Savannah, Tenn., was also a memorable day.

“I will always remember there were 220 defendants on my first docket,” said Judge Bradberry. “It was a regular circuit status day, but because of the backlog, obviously from Covid-19, the docket was full.  We finished by 5 p.m., after working the entire docket. It went as well as it could have gone. It was not perfect by any means, but it went as well as it could have.

Judge Bradberry serves the 24th Judicial District which includes Benton, Carroll, Decatur, Hardin and Henry Counties.

“I have five counties in the District so I’m getting to meet staff in a couple of the counties that I’d never met. I’m seeing that each county does things a little bit differently. We’ve already discussed trying create consistency among counties.”

Judge Bradberry’s interest in seeking a judicial role piqued after working with Senior Judge William B. Acree, Jr.

“I wasn’t the typical law student. I didn’t start law school until I was 40,” said Judge Bradberry. “I never even contemplated becoming a judge until I went to work for Judge Acree. I clerked for him for a year and realized I was able to handle the responsibilities that are required of a judge. Senior Judges hear the messiest of cases and I was able to see it through the lens of the judge. It was great, a wonderful experience.”

His decision to attend law school was motivated by a downturn in manufacturing, a career field in which he had spent the previous 20 years, and a nudge from his cousin, Weakley County Juvenile Court Judge James H. Bradberry.

“I spent 20 years in furniture manufacturing and realized that we were losing ground to overseas competition,” he said. “I went back to business school and earned my MBA in my mid-30s, fully anticipating to have to leave West Tennessee to find another job in the industry. Soon after graduation, I visited my cousin, Jim Bradberry, who’s an attorney and juvenile judge in Weakley County. He offered if I would go to law school he had an office for me.”

It took Judge Bradberry just 90 days to take that advice and enroll in law school.

“I just completed my MBA, so I was accustomed to night school,” said Judge Bradberry. “I made the trek to Nashville for four years, 2-3 times a week and was blessed to graduate from the Nashville School of Law, in 2011. I had two children, already, and I had a third while I was in law school. My furniture company also closed their doors during the time I was in law school, so I was unemployed for a period. Everything has fallen into place wonderfully. We are very, very blessed.”

As for advice for anyone considering a legal career, Judge Bradberry is the poster child for “It’s never too late.”

“Anyone that’s considering law as a career, it’s never too late to go to law school. If you think you can’t do it, you’re wrong.  If you dedicate yourself to this career and put the work in, put the time in, you can handle the responsibility,” he said.

Prior to taking the bench, Judge Bradberry was the Assistant District Public Defender for the 27th Judicial District. He earned his J.D. at Nashville School of Law and his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Tennessee, Martin.

“I was blessed that my first week after being sworn in, I was able to attend my first judicial conference. I visited with a wonderful family of judges in the state. I was definitely the newest judge on the block having been sworn in just two days prior.  All the chancellors and circuit judges I met were just wonderful as well as the staff from the AOC. They all offered to assist in any fashion. It’s a wonderful group of people to work with and I’m honored to be among them,” he said.

Judge Bradberry and his family reside in McKenzie.

Judge J. Brent Bradberry at his swearing in ceremony with fellow Carroll Countian and Court of Criminal Appeals Judge John Everett Williams