Judges Across the State Begin New Terms

Tennessee jurists from Mountain City to Memphis, from Supreme Court justices to general sessions judges, began new eight-year judicial terms today, September 1, 2022. The judges were elected or retained during the August general election. The previous judicial term ran from September 1, 2014 to August 31, 2022.

In state and general sessions courts, 88 new jurists donned robes in their new positions for the first time.  A significant number of judges retired at the end of their judicial terms, and, as is expected, the face of the judiciary has evolved as the State of Tennessee continues to grow and change:

  • The new 32nd Judicial District was officially established, which includes Perry, Lewis and Hickman counties. Fast-growing Williamson County is now the single-county 21st Judicial District.
  • 24 new female attorneys have joined the ranks of the judiciary, bringing the total number of female judges in state and general sessions courts to 92, a record number.
  • 14 new judges are of African-American descent, raising the number of Black judges in the state to 35, also a record.
  • The terms of the state’s three newest appellate judges – Court of Appeals Judge Jeffrey Usman, Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Tom Greenholtz and Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Kyle Hixson also began today. Judge Usman is new to the bench while Judge Greenholtz and Judge Hixson come from the trial court level. All three were confirmed by the General Assembly in the spring.
  • At 31 years old, the youngest new judge is Zachary Walden, a state criminal court judge in the 8th Judicial District, which is covers Campbell, Claiborne, Fentress, and Scott counties. He replaces retiring Judge Shayne Sexton, who took the bench in 1998, when now-Judge Walden was in grade school. Several other new judges are also in their 30s, graduating from law school in the last decade. Tennessee judges now span four generations, from the Silent Generation to Baby Boomers to Generation X to Millennials.

Swearing-In Celebrations

All judges, new or returning, have been sworn-in and took their new oaths of office. Some judges opted for quiet, quick procedures; other judicial districts gathered together with friends and family.

The Women’s Political Collaborative of Tennessee held a swearing-in ceremony at the historic Hermitage Hotel for Nashville’s 19 female judges, a record number for the county. Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon G. Lee led the oath and swore-in the new judges.  Watch the news story here - https://www.newschannel5.com/news/record-number-of-women-judges-take-the-bench-in-nashville

In Memphis, federal United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bernice Donald administered the oath of office to a group of local judges. Several justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court fanned out across the state, often leading multiple ceremonies a day since election results were certified.

“It is incredibly exciting to see so many new faces join the bench,” Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger A. Page said. “The law benefits from new and diverse perspectives, and it is important the judiciary represents the public that it serves. Our established judges also bring a wealth of knowledge and experience that is crucial. At our recent weeklong Judicial Academy for new judges, it was amazing to see the information and idea exchange that was occurring. A judge never forgets the first time he or she puts on a robe and takes the bench, and we fully support all of our new judges as they take on this new endeavor.”

Coverage from around the state:

Knoxville:  https://www.wbir.com/article/news/local/to-the-best-of-my-skill-and-ability-judges-da-clerks-take-oath-to-ensure-justice-in-knox-county/51-a7507f86-41d1-49df-8f5e-64f50d66deb5

Williamson County: https://www.williamsonherald.com/news/local_news/recently-elected-county-officials-swear-oaths-of-office-at-ceremony/article_ad3bf6ec-27e0-11ed-83f6-c72f99314b73.html