Tenn. chief justice announces retirement

Chris Rizo Apr. 29, 2008, 4:59pm

William Barker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Legal Newsline)--Tennessee Chief Justice William M. Barker announced Tuesday he will retire Sept. 1.

Barker, 66, has served the judiciary for 25 years and was selected state chief justice in 2005.

In a letter to Gov. Phil Bredesen, Barker said it was an honor for him to serve 12 years as a circuit judge in Chattanooga, followed by three years on the Court of Criminal Appeals and the last 10 on the state's high court.

In announcing his retirement, Barker said the state's court system is in good health.

"I am pleased to report that the state of the judiciary in Tennessee is excellent," he said, noting that he has seen "countless positive changes in both substantive and procedural laws" while on the bench.

Then-Gov. Don Sundquist, a Republican, in 1995 appointed Barker to the state Court of Criminal Appeals. The following year, he was elected to an eight-year term.

Barker was appointed to the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1998 and was elected to a full eight-year term the same year and again in 2006. He was unanimously elected in 2005 by his colleagues to serve as chief justice.

Barker said his retirement plans include doing church mission work and spending time with his family. He said he might return to the private practice of law.

"Although I will miss the intellectual stimulation the judiciary provides and the collegiality I have enjoyed with members of all branches of our state government, I am confident I leave Tennessee's courts in professional and capable hands," he said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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