Tennessee’s First Woman Chief Justice To Retire

Justice Janice Holder served as chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court from 2008-2010. She was the first woman to hold the position. Credit: Administrative Office of the Courts

Justice Janice Holder served as chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court from 2008-2010. She was the first woman to hold the position and also serve while a majority of the court was made up of women. Credit: Administrative Office of the Courts

The first woman to head the state’s highest court is retiring. Janice Holder will not seek reelection to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Holder was appointed 17 years ago by then-Governor Don Sundquist. She won retention elections in ‘98 and again in 2006.

The title of “chief justice” is now a rotating position on the five-member panel. Holder held the moniker from 2008 to 2010 – becoming the first woman chief justice in Tennessee. The 63-year-old judge says in a letter to Governor Bill Haslam she will serve out her current term, which ends in August of next year.

Holder is a native of Pennsylvania but began her career on the bench in Memphis.

Chief Justice Gary Wade says in a statement that Holder “practiced the art of judicial restraint” and issued “concise, authoritative opinions.” She wrote on behalf of the majority in upholding several death penalty convictions.


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