Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, March 29, 2019

Reeves to become chief judge of the Eastern District of Tennessee


U.S. District Judge Pamela Reeves will become the chief judge of the Eastern District of Tennessee on April 1, succeeding U.S. District Judge Thomas Varlan, who has held the chief judgeship for the past seven years.

Reeves is the first woman to hold a district judgeship in the Eastern District of Tennessee and becomes the first woman to hold the district’s chief judge position in the court’s 222-year history.

She was nominated to her judgeship in 2013 by President Barack Obama and confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate in 2014.

Chief Judge Varlan swore her in March 10, 2014 and will administer the oath of office for chief judge Monday, April 1 at 9:30 a.m. at the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Federal Courthouse in Knoxville.

The chief judge serves as the lead judicial administrative officer for the district and oversees the day to day operations of the court. The post of chief judge was established in 1948 by the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policymaking body of the federal judiciary, to handle the judicial administrative duties in each of the country’s 94 judicial districts.

The chief judgeship rotates every seven years to the next judge in seniority who’s under the age of 65.

Reeves graduated summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee in 1976 and received her juris doctor degree from the UT College of Law in 1979. She practiced law in Knoxville until her appointment.

She served as the first female president of the Tennessee Bar Association 1998-1999, is a Master of the American Inns of Court and past president of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators.

“Given Judge Reeves’s legal and administrative background, both in private practice and as a judge, she is eminently qualified to lead our district as the next chief judge,” Chief Judge Varlan says. “Judge Reeves’s contributions to the legal profession and to her community are far reaching, and her becoming our court’s first female chief judge is a tribute to her and a historic milestone for our district.”

Reeves and Varlan are two of the four active district judges serving the Eastern District of Tennessee. The others are Judge Harry Mattice and Judge Travis McDonough in Chattanooga.

In addition, there are four district judges serving the district in senior status, a semi-retirement position. They are Judges Leon Jordan and Thomas Phillips in Knoxville, Judge Curtis Collier in Chattanooga and Judge J. Ronnie Greer in Greeneville.

The Eastern District of Tennessee is composed of 41 counties serving 2.5 million people, with courthouses in Knoxville, Greeneville, Chattanooga and Winchester. In addition to its eight active and senior district judges, there are five magistrate judges and four bankruptcy judges serving the district.

Source: U.S. District Court Eastern District of Tennessee