Career on bench spans nearly 2 decades
(From the Administrative Office of the Courts)
Tennessee Supreme Court Justice E. Riley Anderson will retire Aug. 31, ending a judicial career that included four terms as chief justice and writing or participating in more than 3,000 appellate court decisions.
It is with mixed feelings that I advise you that I will not be a candidate for re-election in August of 2006 for a third term on the Tennessee Supreme Court, Anderson wrote in a letter to Gov. Phil Bredesen.
Anderson, of Knoxville, practiced law in Oak Ridge for nearly 30 years until 1987 when he was appointed to the state Court of Appeals. He was the first appellate court judge appointed by Gov. Ned McWherter. He was elected to the Court of Appeals in 1988 and elected to the Supreme Court two years later. He was re-elected to an eight-year term in 1998.
"I accept Justice Anderson's notice of retirement from the Supreme Court with regret, Bredesen said. He has served on the court with great distinction for 16 years, and we will miss his wisdom and experience."
Anderson, 73, was elected chief justice by the five-member Supreme Court in 1994. He was re-elected in 1997 and in 1998 and agreed to serve again for a short time in 2005.
When he stepped down from the position in 2001, Anderson had served longer than any chief justice in the past 40 years. During his terms as chief justice, the court took a number of steps to improve efficiency in the administration of justice and increase public confidence in the judiciary. He also served as chief during a transition in the judicial system toward automation.
As chief justice, Anderson worked to make courts open and accessible and stressed programs to educate Tennesseans about the judicial branch of government. Some access and education-related court initiatives in which he played a key role were the adoption of a rule allowing cameras in courtrooms to give the public greater access to legal proceedings; creation of a court system website; the SCALES educational program for high school students, which won an American Bar Association award; and a Law School for Journalists conducted in partnership with the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.
Changes in the court system while Anderson was chief justice also included creation of a commission to improve foster care; an overhaul of the Code of Judicial Conduct for judges; adoption of a sexual harassment policy for the judicial department of state government; and the adoption of court-annexed alternative dispute resolution to settle legal disagreements without litigation.
The court also took steps while Anderson was chief justice to reduce unnecessary delays in capital cases. The delay-reducing initiatives included providing law clerks to trial judges; monthly monitoring by the chief justice of all capital cases; increased standards and pay for court-appointed capital case attorneys to reduce appeals based on ineffective assistance of counsel; and proposing and obtaining funding for capital case attorneys to assist trial judges.
The work of the court in administering justice has been challenging and rewarding and I have looked forward to every day, but for every thing there is a season, Anderson wrote to the governor.
A successor to Anderson on the Supreme Court will be appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen. The state Judicial Selection Commission will announce a deadline for applications and will conduct a public hearing and interviews with applicants before submitting names to the governor for his consideration.