11th District Criminal Court Judge Don Poole Eyes August 31 Retirement

August 23, 2022

On August 31, 11th District Criminal Court Judge Don Poole will hang up his judicial robe and enter retirement. After 17 years on the bench and three decades practicing law, it won’t be easy.

“I’ve enjoyed being a judge. I’m going to miss being a judge,” said Judge Poole. “People ask about my feelings. I guess I’m happy to a certain extent, expectant to a certain extent, but I’m sad, too, to a certain extent because I’ve enjoyed being a judge. I hope for the most part I’ve done a good job being a judge. I’ve tried hard. I studied hard. I worked hard and hopefully people will remember me for doing that.”

Career Choices

Judge Poole said he always had a desire to be judge. That is, after he gave up on joining the FBI.

“I originally went to law school with the intent of being in the FBI,” said Judge Poole. “I graduated from law school and that did not sound too exciting at that time, so I went on to be a law clerk, and joined the Air Force and District Attorney’s Office. I think after practicing for several years, I had the desire to be a judge.”

Judge Poole was appointed to the bench in January 2006. Since it was an election year, he had to run in the primaries a few months later. Then, he ran again in August to retain his seat. Despite having to endure difficult cases from time to time, Judge Poole’s thoroughly enjoyed his judicial career. 

“I like being a judge, for one thing,” said Judge Poole. “I think you come in contact with a lot of people – lawyers, witnesses, jurors, defendants. I enjoyed all of that and my interaction with them. I’ve also enjoyed the staff and fellow court members I work with on a regular basis, not only in the criminal court but the mental health court, as well. Just being with those people and being around them every day. I was in practice 30 years, so I would go from court, to court, to court. In judging, you are in one court and that’s where you are so I’ve enjoyed it.”

Judge Poole was a prosecutor and defense lawyer before becoming a judge. He believes a diverse career portfolio is a benefit to anyone seeking a judicial vacancy.

“The person who has been elected to succeed me has that background as a prosecutor and many years in the public defender’s office, so I think that’s a good background,” said Judge Poole. “I also think you certainly need to stay up-to-date on criminal laws, rules of evidence, procedure and practicing law. I hope that people do that and I hope that people who want to be elected to be a judge sometime will do those things. A background in various areas is important.”

Memorable Cases

No matter how much experience a judge brings to the bench, there are some cases that leave a lasting impression. Judge Poole’s most memorable case haunts him to this day. 

“I’ve had many memorable cases, which bother me to this day because of the extreme sadness that remains with me,” said Judge Poole. “One I had that comes to mind was a boyfriend who brutalized his girlfriend’s young boy, all day and evening, which finally resulted in the death of the child. Also, the Woodmore Bus Crash where many young children were killed and injured; and a tractor trailer crash, which occurred on I-75. It resulted in six deaths, four of those killed were in the same family. I also remember the many cases wherein young victims were by killed young defendants.”

Retirement Plans

Fortunately, Judge Poole’s retirement plans will force him to concentrate on new and exciting subjects.

“I thought about going back to the to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and taking some history classes,” said Judge Poole. “When I went to college, I planned on being an engineer and that really wasn’t my forte. A lot of my background the first year of college was engineering classes. I missed some of the liberal arts classes, so I’d like to take some of them.”

He also plans to spend more time with his two children and four grandchildren, and travel with his wife, Candice. The two have been married for 54 years.

“I will tell you what my wife has in mind and we’ll see about that,” said Judge Poole. “She came here from out West. She was raised in Las Vegas. I was in the Air Force, so we got married and she came east and south with me fifty years ago. She now has family in Boise, Idaho. She wants to spend six months in Boise with her family. I want to spend a week, so I hope we can compromise on that. Maybe not six months, but a good portion of it anyway.”

Previous Employment

Prior to his judgeship, Judge Poole was a private practice attorney, from 1972-2006. Before that, he served as Assistant District Attorney for Hamilton County for three years; and was a Clerk for the Tennessee Supreme Court. After his clerkship, he served three years in the United States Air Force as a JAG Captain.

Honors – Memberships – Community Service

Judge Poole received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chattanooga Bar Association. He is a member of the Chattanooga Rotary Club and the Inns of Court; a fellow of the Chattanooga and Tennessee Bar Associations, the American Bar Foundation, and the American College of Trial Lawyers. Judge Poole’s served as a Sunday School Teacher for various classes at Brainerd United Methodist Church for approximately 35 years.

Education

Judge Poole is a 1964 and 1965 graduate of the University of Tennessee.

11th District Criminal Court Judge Don Poole