Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, November 7, 2014

Judge Bolton portrait unveiled

The Honorable Jackie Bolton and her husband, Tom, with the portrait of Bolton by artist Daud Akhriev. - (Photo by David Laprad)

A journey the Honorable Jackie Bolton began in 1978 with a commute from Chattanooga to Nashville to attend her first night class at law school culminated Monday, Oct. 27 with the unveiling of her portrait at the Hamilton County Courthouse. Bolton, who sat on the circuit court bench for over 15 years and previously served as juvenile court judge, chose not to seek re-election this year.

Many colleagues, friends, and family members attended the event, held in the county commission room. Seated at Bolton’s side was her husband, Tom, and one of their three grown children, Bart.

Judge J.B. Bennett presided over the unveiling ceremony. “What a high honor it is to preside over the portrait unveiling for the most Honorable Jaqueline Bolton,” he said. “I am deeply indebted and extremely grateful to her not only for her graciousness but also for the example she has been and the standard she set as the steward of justice for the First Division Court of Hamilton County.”

Four speakers provided remarks about Bolton’s life and career. First at the podium was lifelong friend Bill Bennett, who provided an overview of Bolton’s career.

After graduating from the University of Georgia with a journalism degree in 1973, Bolton moved to Chattanooga to work for WTVC as a news reporter. She later moved to WRCB to become an anchor and a reporter. “She did not wait for her ship to come in, but she swam out to meet it,” Bennett said.

In 1978, Bolton began driving to Nashville to attend night classes at the Nashville School of Law. Her first job in the legal field was with Eugene Collins as a staff attorney for the City of Chattanooga. She later entered private practice with Albert Secor and Jerry Tidwell.

In 1989, Bolton was appointed juvenile court judge after the retirement of the Honorable Dixie Smith. She returned to private practice the following year after losing the election. In 1998, however, she was elected to the circuit court bench, and she was re-elected in 2006 without opposition.

“I have great respect for Jackie and all she’s done for Hamilton County,” Bennett said. “You’ve made a lasting impact. God speed to you and your family.”

Next at the podium was Bill Payne, who introduced himself as “Judge Bolton’s fabulous free law clerk.” He spoke highly of Bolton and the impact she had on his law career.

“After my 1L year in law school, I wasn’t sure about the law. I didn’t know if I’d learned anything or was the butt of a practical joke about rules and exceptions to rules,” he said. “But while spending time with Judge Bolton, I saw a different side of things. She agonized over the predicaments people were in, empathized with what they were going through, and focused on the human side of the law, which is something you don’t learn in law school. I saw how the law becomes intuitive when you focus on people, and are concerned about what’s going to happen to them.”

A second intern, Scott Jarvis, shared three lessons he learned during his time with Bolton. “She was a great ambassador for the law. One of my favorite memories of her is watching her interact with prospective jurors. She empowered them with the law and left them with an appreciation for what they were doing,” he said. “Second, she practiced the virtues of patience and humility on a daily basis with the citizens who appeared in her court, and balanced those two things with a keen wit and an ability to dissect complex legal issues. Finally, she taught me that the practice of law can be a time consuming and taxing ordeal, but you have to balance it with life and family.”

A third intern, Daniel White, called Bolton a mentor and a friend. “Judge Bolton demonstrated sincere interest in my professional development and personal life,” he said. “She made sure I received the most interesting and beneficial work for my post-clerkship practice. She also set up meetings for me with people in the community if she thought talking with them would be beneficial to me. And she included me in speaking engagements, panel discussions, and her board involvement.

“Since my clerkship, Judge Bolton has continually made herself available to me. Thank you, Judge Bolton – an exceptional judge, mentor, and friend – for your years of service to our community and to me.”

Bolton’s comments were brief, and consisted mainly of thanking many of the people present at the unveiling. “I appreciate you more than you know, and I’ve enjoyed my service immensely,” she said.

Bolton plans to continue her civic activities and enjoy retirement with her husband.