NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Legal Newsline) -- Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder announced Wednesday she will retire after more than 17 years on the state's high court.

Holder said her last day will be Aug. 31, 2014.

The justice explained that she is retiring at the end of her current term and will not seek reelection in the state's August 2014 judicial retention election.

Holder said she notified Gov. Bill Haslam of her decision by letter Wednesday.

"It has been my privilege to serve the people of Tennessee as a trial judge and Supreme Court justice -- and an honor to have been selected by my fellow justices as the first female chief justice in our state's history," she said in a statement.

Holder, the third woman to serve on the state Supreme Court, was the first woman to serve as chief justice, a role she held from September 2008 through August 2010.

During the court's current term, the position of chief justice has rotated, each chief justice serving a two-year term.

"As a jurist, Justice Holder has practiced the art of judicial restraint, writing concise, authoritative opinions, and never reaching beyond the issues presented to the court," current Chief Justice Gary Wade said in a statement.

"Much lies ahead in her professional career, but at the end, I will simply miss a respected colleague and a dear friend."

Holder also serves on the state's first Supreme Court to have a majority of women on the bench.

Justices Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee currently sit on the five-member court with Holder.

"While Janice Holder will always be remembered as the first woman in history to serve as chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court, she has also been a courageous champion of the rights of all women, a compassionate leader in the Access to Justice initiative, a staunch proponent of the lawyers' assistance program, and a dedicated servant to the people of this state," Wade said.

Holder was instrumental in developing both the court's Access to Justice Commission and the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program, which helps those in the legal profession address health and personal issues.

"Working to provide legal services to those who could not otherwise afford such services has been some of the most satisfying work of my career," the justice said of her work.

Holder was first elected circuit court judge of the 30th Judicial District in Memphis in 1990.

She was appointed to the Supreme Court in December 1996, elected in August 1998 and then reelected in 2006 to her current eight-year term.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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