Judge Jill Bartee Ayers was unanimously confirmed during a joint session of the Tennessee General Assembly as the newest member of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals – Middle Section.
Judge Ayers was appointed by Governor Bill Lee on January 12, 2021, after being one of three candidates out of 11 applicants that was recommended to the governor by the Governor’s Council for Judicial Appointments. She previously served as a circuit court judge in the 19th judicial district, which covers Montgomery and Robertson counties. She presided almost exclusively over criminal cases, including over 50 jury trials.
“The CCA has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Judge Ayers, and she will be a great addition to our court,” said Judge John Everett Williams, the presiding judge of the CCA. “She is the first judge we have added since 2016 when Judge Ross Dyer took his place on the court, and we are always thrilled to add a new perspective and viewpoint to our deliberations and opinions.”
The vacancy on the Court of Criminal Appeals – Middle Section was created by the retirement of the Honorable Thomas Woodall, effective December 31, 2020. The new circuit court vacancy in the 19th judicial district created by today’s confirmation of Judge Ayers will be filled after the Trial Court Vacancy Commission holds public hearings and recommends three candidates to Governor Bill Lee, who will make the final appointment.
“I am humbled by Governor Lee’s confidence in appointing me and by the Legislature’s confirmation,” said Judge Ayers. “I look forward to getting to work now to help my colleagues on the Court of Criminal Appeals.”
There are 12 Court of Criminal Appeals judges in Tennessee, broken into three sections– Eastern, Middle, and Western. Judge Ayers joins Judge Timothy Easter, Judge Robert Holloway, Jr. and Judge Robert Wedemeyer in the Middle Section, which traditionally hears cases at the Nashville Supreme Court building. It is common for the Court of Criminal Appeals to mix judges from different sections on panels, which means Judge Ayers will likely also hear cases from the Western and Eastern Sections. Decisions from the Court of Criminal Appeals may be appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court. All appellate judges in Tennessee are subject to retention elections, the next of which will be held in August 2022.
Judge Ayers was a partner at Batson Nolan PLC in Clarksville prior to being appointed to the circuit court bench in 2015 by former Governor Bill Haslam. She is a graduate of Belmont University and the University of Tennessee College of Law.