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VOL. 123 | NO. 170 | Friday, August 29, 2008

Holder to be Sworn In As First Woman Chief Justice

By Rebekah Hearn

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Janice Holder

Justice Janice M. Holder has been tapped to serve as the chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Holder will be the first woman in the state’s history to serve as the chief justice, and she currently is the third woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court in the state’s history.

“I am grateful to my colleagues on the court for their votes of confidence and look forward to working with them as we continue our efforts to bolster the public’s trust and confidence in the judiciary,” Holder said in an official statement from the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts.

The ceremony will take place Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Supreme Court Building in Nashville.

Retiring Chief Justice William M. Barker will administer the oath of office to Holder, who was elected by the court to serve a two-year term.

Holder was appointed to the Supreme Court as a justice in 1996 and was elected in 1998 to a full eight-year term. In 2006, she was re-elected to a second eight-year term.

Prior to serving on the state Supreme Court, Holder was elected a Circuit Court judge in Shelby County in 1990, after having practiced law from 1977 to 1990. She held her judgeship until her appointment to serve on the Supreme Court in 1996.

Holder earned her bachelor’s degree in 1971 from the University of Pittsburgh, and she received her law degree in 1975 from nearby Duquesne University School of Law, where she was a Law Review editor. Upon graduating, she clerked for Chief Judge Herbert P. Sorg of the U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania.

Holder has been honored with several awards throughout her career. In 1990, she received the Memphis Bar Association’s Sam A. Myar award as an outstanding young lawyer, and in 1992, she received the Charles O. Rond Outstanding Jurist Award. In 1999, the Association for Women Attorneys awarded Holder the Marion Griffin-Frances Loring Award for Outstanding Achievements in and for the Legal Profession.

In addition to her duties as a judge, Holder holds a black belt in karate and she also enjoys other physical activities such as scuba diving and boating.

“Those are the things that keep me balanced,” Holder said in the AOC statement. “I believe in the value of hard work, whether I am wearing my judicial robe or my karate gi.”

Upon her swearing in, Holder will become one of 20 female chief justices in the country.

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